Yep – mad.

I’m at the end of day 3, and won’t need day 5… arriving in Brissie tomorrow. I must admit – while there’s been a lot of driving – it hasn’t been that hard.

Plans being plans – real life didn’t follow…

Grace’s little Suzuki Swift was packed to the ceiling – with my stuff taking up the front seat. I’d taken a minimal selection of camping kit to keep the cost down, but I only need it for 5 days (I thought) and I’d have to bring it back on the plane so it was only the bare essentials.

I left home on Friday (Australia Day) at around 5:45 – so pretty much on time… heading out of Perth via Roe Hwy. As I took the exit for Great Eastern Hwy I found myself 6 cars and 2 semis back from a train taking up 2.5 lanes… yes – a train. Doing around 30kph I thought 5 days may not have been enough.

We all crawled along for about 20 mins when they finally pulled over and let the hundred or so of us by. Brisbane here I come.

I was aiming for camping around Balladonia (around 900km). It didn’t take long to realise that I’d be there way before dark so I figured I’d go as far as possible… probably Caiguna (Halls Creek’s close relative). I got there, with still more time to come.

After doing a few calculations to allow for Central Western Timezone, my weather app’s sunset times for Eucla, and also a phone call to the motel in Madura I decided it would be worth the extra drive to get ahead. Unfortunately, I didn’t allow for the roadworks along the way. Work crews seem to like closing the entire road at the end of the day so they can put away their trucks, etc. In the end, I arrived well into dusk – a big no-no for me in the countryside due to the wildlife. I was only doing around 80kph on arrival.

Not a great motel, but for $50 I wasn’t complaining. With nearly 1400km completed on the first day I immediatley started to think that a 5th day may not be necessary.

Up bright and early I aimed for Port Augusta. At one of the fuel stops along the way I checked the tyres. The rear left was nearing its end-of-life (having been left on the front too long for Fangio’s driving style). Like my recent lap of Oz on the bike, I started to worry about it – needing a new one in the middle of nowhere is one thing – blowing it out is another. It was Saturday, so I was hoping a tyre shop in Ceduna would be open (it’s a common size). Nope. Hmmm – this might be fun.

On to Port Augsta. Problem is I’d be there on Saturday night/Sunday morning and it’d be unlikely that a tyre shop would be open – I didn’t want to waste a day, but I may have no choice.

Hot, hot, hot! Soon after I left Madura the temp climbed and sat at around 40 for most of the trip, hitting 43 for quite a bit – with humidity climing too. However, Grace’s aircon worked a treat… quite possibly since 75% of the cabin space was taken up with her crap so it didn’t have much air to move around. I refuelled in Kimba: under cover I honestly felt like I was getting burnt it was that hot.

Another motel in Port Augusta – better, and more pricey ($90). Before I left Perth I was worried about the heatwave striking south-east Oz at the moment. There was no way I was going to be able to sleep in a tent and drive the distances I need to drive. So – hotels were required (and the camping gear wasn’t).

I woke on Sunday morning early, checked the internet for tyre shops that might be open in Broken Hill (maybe 1), then I checked the forecast for Port Augusta – 46 today. Time to get outta Dodge. It was only going to be 42 in Broken Hill (!).

The road from Port Augusta to Broken Hill must be Australia’s kangaroo graveyard – hundreds (literally) of fresh meat along the way. At one point I felt like I was on the Esses at Bathurst – the little Swift wasn’t going to go over many of them, so I had to go around.

In Broken Hill I checked for the tyres shop whose Google page suggested it might be open – nope. However, the tread on the rear tyre was OK so I was confident I’d make the whole trip without any problem (but will keep checking).

Hot, hot, hot still – and I was looking for longer times in the car so no touring of Broken Hill (Mr OzFox will have to come back some other time).

As I was leaving – about 1 block from the central/main intersection in town I passed a herd of goats just roaming the streets…. never seen anything like it.

The road from Broken Hill to Nyngan (where I am now) had fewer kangaroos, but loads of sheep, goats and emus. Here’s a little family:

The temp sat at around 42 for most of the day – and at around 21 inside the car. The Suzuki Swift is a brilliant little car. It’s only a 1.4L auto, but it hums along at 110 very easily. I’m 186cm and there’s plenty of room for me. The cruise control tries to kick it down a gear (where it screams) going up some hills so I had to keep on top of that. As a form of transport it does have 2 wheels more than it really needs, but airconditioning is a nice accessory.

On to Brissie tomorrow.

Am I mad?

OK, to help Grace relocate to Brisbane for her studies in musical theatre, I’m driving her car across from Perth. It’s actually cheaper that putting it on a truck/train cos: I have to fly across anyway (so I save an airfare) for registration in QLD (cos it’s a lease it has to stay in my name, and I have to be there); being a novated lease the fuel is tax deductible, etc.

So, roughly 4,500km in 5 days is the target – no night-time driving. My only fear is the hot weather experienced in south-east Oz at the moment.

When I arrive, it’s: new tyres, service/safety inspection, rego.

I’ll be packing a cordless screw driver to help with assembly of flat-pack furniture.

Wish me luck.

Follow me on Spot here.

My lap – a quick summary

I’ve been back for a fortnight now. I’m back at work, but wishing I wasn’t. Before I forget, here’s a quick summary of the trip – numbers and commentary…

Days 65
Total Riding Distance (from ODO) 22,559
Fuel (Litres) 1,324.25
Fuel (Total Cost) $1,876.36
#of Refuellings 89
Average $/litre $1.417
Most expensive fuel $1.886 (Balladonia, WA)
Cheapest fuel $1.215 (Peterborough, VIC)
Average distance between refuellings 250.65
Longest day’s ride 896km, 9h10m
Average distnace/day 347
Nights 64
Nights in tent 45
Nights in hard accommodation 19
Times tent was pitched 43
Days not relocated “home” 6
Best Road Surface Bathurst Racecourse
Worst Road Surface Karumba to Atherton
Best Ride
Hobart to Bothwell, via Gordon Dam & Lake Pedder, with Diesel
Worst Ride Approaching Alexandra – cold and wet through
Best Twistie Too many to separate
Best Camp/Caravan Park Esk Caravan Park
Worst Camp/Caravan Park Halls Gap Caravan Park; Baxter Rest Area (near Balladonia)
Biggest Riding Mistake
Going up a very steep & narrow one-way road in Thredbo with trailer
Worst Oh-F**k! moment Wind blowing bike over on first day, even before tent was up
Worst Equipment Failure Brake pads @ Geelong
Luckiest Moment Discovering brake pad problem before damage
Best Day Visit to Gordon Dam & Lake Pedder with Diesel, finished with camping in Bothwell, bottles of plonk, Spam, and great company.
Worst Day Day of cold/rain from Khancoban to Alexandria, having missed Great Alpine Rd
Biggest disappointment Not being able to ride the Great Alpine Rd due to weather
Best Place Tasmania as a whole
Scariest Moment Kangaroo u-turn in front of me near Karumba
Funniest Moment Brief discussion of pendulous testicles with Diesel
Hotest Day 39c & humid – Lake Argyle to Katherine
Coldest Day 7c – Khancoban to Alexandra
Best View
Mount Wellington, Lake Pedder, Gordon Dam, Wineglass Bay

Day 65 – Hayden To Perth (330 km)

Hmmmm, the last day. There’s still one or two things to do at the start, but the trip is nearly over. No rush (again) though – Ellie was at work and would need to get home before me to let me in.

I started to walk a little yesterday evening towards “Hippo’s Yawn”, but got lost – just a bit – so that was the first destination. This is just another rock formation a little way from Wave Rock (< 1km). Yes – it does look like one:

Just north of Wave Rock is another large granite rock formation. I went for a short walk around these, but it was getting warm already, so I just focused on the aboriginal rock art at Mulka Cave. Surprisingly, there’s no rope, fence, or glass protecting them, and there’s no graffiti. Although, they are only around 400 years old.

OK, hometime. I was still in the wheatbelt, and was in it for an eternity – I knew it was large, but I had no real idea as to how big it was… I was travelling east to west and it’s longer north to south.

I did manage to find every grasshopper/locust (they were small – couldn’t tell) along the way. Those little Messerschmitts would just sit on the road and wait for the bike to approach, then lift off at the last minute. They hit quite hard on the knees, and they made a big mess on the front of the bike.

I knew when I was getting close to Perth: the forests started to appear and the traffic increased.

Then, the metro area got me:

I did a final refuel just before home, with a total distance covered of  22,559 km. I was done.

I had that confused feeling of being glad I was home, but wishing I was still out there. I know I’d only just scratched the surface as the ride was more about getting from A to B, and not about A and B. Ellie & I have lots to cover later.

So, time to start planning the next one. 😉

Day 64 – Esperance To Hyden

First things first – get some cash – lesson learnt. While in town I happened across their local Sunday markets. Since not much else was open I paid a visit. It’s pretty much just like, say, the Freo markets but smaller – and like all other country towns I expect. This though was placed in an area surrounded by some of their older buildings. Nice.

I also managed to pickup a nice lampskin for the bike seat for $55. First one that I’ve found that was large enough and cheap too. 😊

Last night I did a quick Google and spotted something I had to go and see…. Esperance Stonehenge. It was only 12 kms away so why not.

I’d already seen and walked inside (a while back) the original so I had high expectations. I have to say, I was worried on approach as the stones looked like polystyrene or something very fake, but that was the way they were “polished”. They’re made of pink granite from around the Esperance area and were meant to be in Margaret River before the project took a dive and a local rescued it.

They say it’s a replica of what Stonehenge would have looked like 4000 years ago – aligned with Esperance’s solstices instead.

It just seemed odd that it would be here. Anyway, a bit quirky but worth the visit.

Next stop Hyden. The road winds its way through WA’s wheatbelt – much of it yet to be harvested.

It’s a wonder anything grows here… the salt lakes would suggest it’s quite a hostile environment for agriculture.

I arrived at Hyden caravan park (adjacent to Wave Rock) and checked in. The weather was starting to turn foul (of course!) so I quickly unpacked, put up the tent, and went for my first look-see of the wave. It’s a lot higher than I expected (and yes Ellie – I’m wearing those horrible shorts!)…

The small dam at the top – which uses the large sloping rocks above as a catchment area:

The forecast storm was approaching, so I had dinner and climbed into the tent with wind and thunder all around. Tonight was my last night on the trip with just 350-odd kms to go.

It was starting to sink in. 3 years in planning and it was nearly over.


Day 63 – Baxter Rest Area To Esperance (509 km)

The problem with road-side rest areas is that, well, they’re next to a road – and the Nullabor has a steady stream of road-trains 24hrs/day. So, even with earplugs, I didn’t sleep well and woke with the headache. A fistful of ibuprofen did the trick though.

Back in WA time (with no daylight saving) I exited the tent at tweetie-bird time and sunrise, only to find it was still 4:30 fricken AM! I was up, and the other grey nomads were making their noise too so there wasn’t any point trying to go back to sleep.

Continue reading “Day 63 – Baxter Rest Area To Esperance (509 km)”

Day 62 – Ceduna To Baxter Rest Area (896 km)

Ok – this rain thing isn’t funny anymore. Drizzle drizzle. It’s not that I don’t like rain, or mind riding in it (if you have the right gear) but it does make for a slow start in the morning… having to wait for it to stop, rush out from under cover, pack a bit more, rush back under cover, rinse, repeat. Either that or everything gets wet. I eventually had it all done with the 1 thing that wasn’t going to go in the trailer dry and that was the tent itself – absolutely waterlogged. Never mind though – with a bit of sun and wind it dries very quickly so that will happen later tonight.

Ceduna – been there, done that – Eucla here I come.

The rain/drizzle continued sporadically for several hours. A little annoying but it did keep the temperature down. As I mentioned before, some find it boring, but it is an ever-changing scenery.

Continue reading “Day 62 – Ceduna To Baxter Rest Area (896 km)”

Day 61 – Wilmington To Ceduna (534 km)

Horrocks Pass is a short road that winds its way through the Southern Flinders Ranges. It’s a road that I’ve ridden twice before (to and from Adelaide in 2013). Each time the weather was crap at the time, so the views weren’t brilliant.

Yesterday I spent most of the day riding into a storm that also covered Horrocks Pass, so part of my decision to stay in Wilmington was to give it a chance to clear. That was a waste of time.

The road itself was covered by cloud when I woke in the morning, and the rain came a bit later to add something “extra special” to the ride. ☹

I thought of just hanging around some more but that would just waste time, the park wasn’t that interesting, the rain had come, and I could be there for a while. So, bugger it – off I went.

Continue reading “Day 61 – Wilmington To Ceduna (534 km)”

Day 60 – Adelaide To Wilmington (346 km)

I slept well. It was only a brief stay, but it was great to catch up with Derek & Julia again. Ellie & I will definitely be paying them a visit when we come through here… just not sure when.

Anyway, I headed slightly south-east to get to the hills rather than tackle Adelaide’s traffic (even though it was around 10 when I left). It was a warm one… 32 on departure.

I headed up to Mount Lofty (a great name for a mountain)… lots of twisties I wasn’t expecting.

Continue reading “Day 60 – Adelaide To Wilmington (346 km)”

Day 59 – Victor Harbor To Adelaide (168 km)

A short-ish ride today… just down to Cape Jervis and then back up to Adelaide as I’ll be staying with our great family friends Derek & Julia… starting of course with the obligatory quick ride around town before departing… just a refresher really as I remember my visit in 2013 quite vividly now. Victor Harbor (spelling correct now) is a very nice & clean town and it’s little wonder one of the go-to places for holidays from Adelaide.

Continue reading “Day 59 – Victor Harbor To Adelaide (168 km)”