Broome, Geraldton and beyond…. by: JK | Sat 16 Oct

The bus trip to Broome was uneventful and I arrived at about 7:30am and was greeted at the bus stop by Bart, one of my hosts for tonight, who gave me a key for their home. I rode out to their place, unloaded my bike & trailer and headed off to see the renowned Cable Beach which undoubtedly lives up to its reputation – this is truly one exquisite part of the country, made even more so by the location, as it is, in the middle of the WA outback.

I parked my trusty bike on the white sands and strode into the sea (having been told by Bart that the water is still safe at this time of year from box jelly fish). Ahhhh! Luxury…..and then I turned around, to be stunned by the vision of the white sands, dunes and palm trees all framed by the azure brilliance of the sea. I headed back to my bike to retrieve my camera – this is just screaming to be captured on (silicon) film. I then reluctantly left the ocean and headed back to my digs to attend to the necessities before Bart & Kara returned home from work. I leave for Geraldton in the morning and, unfortunately, again I haven’t managed to get a ‘gig’ in town. Instead, I talk with Bart & Kara about what I am up to.

The trip to Geraldton is also uneventful though, at the change of driver stop, we find out the same can’t be said for their journey up from Perth. A combination of events leads to a ‘run-in’ (literally) with a cow that is loose on the road and the bus headed towards Broome has sustained some not inconsiderable front-end damage – they must be fairly hefty creatures as the bus comes fitted with ‘bull’-bars (perhaps they should be called ‘roo’-bars instead). One of the drivers (now our drivers) is somewhat rattled by the experience (understandably).

As expected, the bus gets in at about 10am (10:10am to be precise) on 10/10/10 and I load up my bike, attach my trailer and head off to meet my new host (Gwyn) who is ‘manning’ a stall at the local market in honour of the 350.org movement’s day of action. By noon we have finished and I am again headed for my new ‘home’ for the next 2 days. To mark my arrival, Gwyn and her husband Bruce have invited some friends (Julie, Johnny & Csena – pronounced Zena though I can’t be sure of the spelling) over for dinner and we have a lovely ‘nosh-up’.

The next day I venture out to Julie’s permaculture farm before heading into town for a media appointment at the Geraldton Guardian – Ian there, I am pleased to discover, is an ‘old-world’ journalist, complete with shorthand skills! I had intended to get to the Ellendale Pool but I also need to prepare for my talk that night so I have to forego this pleasure.

The talk is a great success and I am pleased to note that Geraldton has great plans to become a better than sustainable town – they intend to improve the environment for future generations. This is truly a breath of fresh air. Afterwards, I head back ‘home’ and go to bed as I will be up early in order to try to beat the winds that seem to hold a legendary place in the combined psyche hereabouts.

I am bound for Dongara where I have another talk scheduled – my last before Perth – and the wind kicks in before I leave Geraldton behind! 🙁 The distance is less than 80km but it feels more like 180km – at times I have difficulty managing 12km/h on the flat! I reach Dongara by about 2pm with an average that has, for the first time this trip, dipped below 18km/h. I can only manage 17.4km/h and have been on the bike for 4 2/3 hours to get here – a distance of only 81.9km!

I touch base with my shire contact Felix and then go to find some accommodation for the night. The local backpackers does the trick and I go and post some things off to home before heading up to the hall. During my journey to Dongara, I missed a media (radio) interview and I don’t know whether this has something to do with it or not but not a single person turns up! This is most unfortunate but I chat with Felix anyway, discussing what I do in my talks to try to get ‘buy-in’ from my audiences. Perhaps some good can come of this failed event.

I then head off to the local asian restaurant to have a meal before going back to my digs for an early night. I will rise at 5am so that I can be on the road by 7am – it is 135km to Jurien Bay (if I can manage it) but my fall back is Green Head at about 105km.

I am on the road before 7am as it turns out but the wind has beaten me again – this is going to be a long day! I head out through Port Denison and by the time I reach the highway I am fighting a strong wind – my early average of 21km/h starts being whittled away as the day progresses. I see trees that have grown leaning over – obviously this wind is a constant (rather than an exception) feature of the WA mid-southern coastline. By the time I reach the turn-off from the main highway onto the Indian Ocean Drive to Jurien Bay I am wondering if I will even make it to Green Head!

I have numerous stops along the way to re-hydrate and just take a breath but, with little shade, I must press on. When I get to Leeman it is well past lunchtime and I have all but exhausted my water supplies. I down 2 litres of soft drink – I need the sugar – and have lunch at a roadhouse café. I then replenish my water supplies.

I need to get to Green Head, at least, in order to maintain my itinerary so I set off once more. By 4:30pm, after nearly 110km of riding and almost 6 1/2 hours in the saddle, I arrive at the caravan park in Green Head. I set up camp, grab a bite to eat from the local general store and head off to sleep well before 8pm – I have to do this all again tomorrow but, fortunately, Cervantes is only 60 odd km away. I MUST keep moving – my itinerary requires it!

Another early rise; I break camp and am on the road by 7am again with some extra water this time. The going is a little easier today and I get to Cervantes by lunchtime but again with an average little better than 18km/h. I head to the local backpackers – I deserve a good night’s sleep (last night the wind hardly stopped howling) and it is important if I am to continue on schedule. I am in two minds as to whether to stay an extra night to recoup but, with Perth beckoning, I decide to head on to Lancelin.

I was able to speak with Sue, my wife, last night after a couple of days without communication and she informs me that the afternoon might provide better conditions for riding wind-wise. With this in mind, I ‘sleep in’ until 7am and have a leisurely breakfast. I then attend to my bike: oiling the chain and making sure the tyres are inflated well. With my run of early starts lately, I have let this slip though I know I shouldn’t.

By 10am I am on the road and this time it is a new one – 2 weeks ago this stretch of highway was opened for the first time. It hugs, for the most part, the coast and provides lots of views of the Indian Ocean. Other than that there are sand dunes and salt bush scrub lands to alleviate the monotony of riding. This section of road has NO towns on it between Cervantes and Lancelin so I had to pack myself some lunch before leaving. The distance today is close to 90km and it takes nearly 5 hours on the bike with numerous stops – just because!

I find the YHA hostel in Lancelin Lodge and decide that a 2 night stay is a MUST. If I can manage it, a massage would also be good for what ails me but, unfortunately, this is not to be. I will have to wait until I reach Perth for this to happen. Today is a complete day of rest and, with the YHA sporting a number of hammocks, I know how I will while away the afternoon.

Until next time,

John

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    3 responses to:
    Broome, Geraldton and beyond….

  1. Noellene Knox says:

    Glad you took the option of a bus ride John; we all want you to arrive back to your family in one piece to celebrate your wonderful achievement. I hope the talks in Albany and Perth go well. No matter whether you have large audiences or smaller ones, each person will take away a new understanding of how much each one of us can contribute in our daily lives to the future of our kids and grandkids; you are giving us that knowledge! It will all add up. I take my hat off to you John. Take care.

  2. Damien says:

    Hi John

    I enjoyed the ‘quiet’ evening in Bridgetown very much.

    Your message was thrown at the converted (me) and I apologise on behalf of all those who didn’t turn up.

    Still working on my meaningful 3 but will post them.

    In the meantime … your belief and dedication is outstanding and so admirable. And your approach so simple and down to earth. Our world needs people like you more and more.

    Safe travels … and may the wind be always at your back.

    Thanks for doing what you are doing … and all love to your family.

    Damien. Bridgetown. WA

  3. Gwyn says:

    Hi John,
    Great to have you here and sorry the wind nearly defeated you! We are famous for it. I’ve started the sustainability course run by GGRC and Bruce is on his way back from Perth with a car he intends to convert to electric. Keep in touch! Gwyn

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