Western Australia

Now that I’d left the Munda Biddi, the road I cycled was quiet, and quite narrow. There wasn’t room for vehicles to pass each other without going onto the gravel on the side. There were only about ten vehicles an hour, and most moved over.

This joined a slightly larger road – wide enough that there was no need for vehicles to drive off it. It was still quiet, though.

Later in the morning the forests started to give way to fields of grazing sheep and cattle. There were a few nature reserves, too. I saw an emu in one of these. I also saw a lizard on the road, very well camoflauged.

As I approached the Frankland river valley, I saw wheat fields, vineyard and olive groves – the whole Mediterranean diet!

In the village of Frankland I stopped at a campsite, at around midday. I spent the rest of the day resting and getting caught up on a few things, including an overdue shower. It started raining shortly after I arrived and I was glad to be sitting in the campsite’s kitchen, rather than cycling.

After my day off I, of course, got back to my usual cycling. Some quiet roads brought me to the edge of the Stirling Range mountains. On my right, low bushes led away to the mountains while on my left the plains stretched into the distance.

Later in the day I joined a road that was very slightly busier. It was also part of a “land train” route. These land trains were not as bad as I’d expected, being only 2-3 lorry lengths. From how bad people make them out to be, I thought they were much bigger. A couple of times I moved off the road when I heard one of these behind and traffic was coming the other way.

I realized I was going to have a slight issue with timing. At my current rate I’d be in the town of Esperance late on Friday – when, because its Good Friday, shops would be closed. I need to stock up on food there so I planned to slow down slightly and arrive on Saturday instead.

In accordance with this, I stopped a bit earlier than usual. I’d mostly been cycling past wheatfields where it was difficult to see a good camping opportunity. When I passed some woodland, then, I decided to stop, though it was an hour or so earlier than I usually would.

I made my way back to the road the next morning, passing a number of impressive spider webs.

After a couple of hours I reached the town of Jerramungup. There was a supermarket there which had some reasonably cheap biscuits so I bought a kilo of those. I got some chips at the roadhouse across the street and sat in the shade to eat those.

When I went to set off, I found my rear tyre was going flat. I found a bit of metal the size of a staple, doubtless from a tyre. I removed it, patched the tube, and off I went again.

The side of the road mostly consisted of wild bush, but this was narrow and beyond it were fields of wheat. I occasionally passed what seemed to be huge granaries.

In the evening I stopped and wandered off from the road to set up camp. However, the ground was covered in ant holes, with not even a square meter free of them. I cycled on another kilometre or so and found an ant-free place to sleep

The next day was Good Friday. Apart from there being a strong headwind (which was probably unrelated), this meant that traffic had increased massively, more than tenfold. With lots of those vehicles being slow moving land trains or RVs, there were often long lines of vehicles passing me one after the other, which isn’t much fun.

Around midday, the road acquired a hard shoulder, which was a significant quality of life improvement. That small bit of extra space from passing vehicles makes a big difference.

Later, I stopped at a roadhouse and bought some chips to eat. A retired guy, Mike, invited me to come and have coffee in his RV with him and his wife, Sue. I enjoyed chatting to them; they’d driven over from Sydney and were now on their way back. It was nice to be out of the wind!

I rarely drink caffeine so it had quite an effect. I’d spent most of the day feeling quite tired and a bit listless, riding slowly. After the coffee I felt like I was flying along for the rest of the day, only stopping when it started to get dark.

In the morning I found that ants had managed to get into my closed peanut butter jar. I didn’t have much food left so I picked out the ants and ate the peanut butter regardless.

For the last few days, there had been at least one rain shower each day. But on this day the rain was unceasing, albeit light. I was soaked when I reached the town of Esperance around midday.

I went to the big Woolworths supermarket there. After this, there’s a small shop in 200km but then no supermarkets for 1200km. I bought about 40,000 calories worth of food here and found it surprisingly easy to fit all this on the bike. I think it’s the most food I’ve ever carried at once. After going to the nearby Red Rooster (Australian KFC) I got back to cycling.

Esperance is on the coast

The road now headed north, instead of east, giving me a break from the headwind I’d grown accustomed to. The rain finally abated around sunset so I was able to be dry while setting up the tent. My clothes were sorted into 3 groups: damp, dry or soaked. I wore dry clothes at night but swapped back into my wet riding clothes again in the morning.

It was an uneventful, but thankfully dry day. In the evening I set up camp a couple kilometres before the town of Norseman.

The following morning I rode into Norseman. This was the last town before a gap of 1200km, so I went to the supermarket and bought some more food. I wanted to have a rest day here and had found a hotel for just 50 AUD (£27). I waited around in a park until the hotel opened then went and checked in. It was pretty run down but the restaurant area was very popular; it was pretty much full when I went down for a pizza in the evening.

Apr 4: 68 km

Apr 5: 163 km

Apr 6: 141 km

Apr 7: 116 km

Apr 8: 148 km

Apr 9: 140 km

Apr 10: 2 km

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