Muka to Perth
- on Sunday, 03 December 2017.
Well, I left Muka 10 days ago to head to the South coast via York, the Wandoo Forrest, Jarrahdale, Pemberton and Walpole. That didn’t happen….. read on!
Left Muka at 1pm. It wasn’t too hot and it was good to be on the bike again. I headed off towards Kununoppin and really only planned to do about 20K’s. Due to the heat I didn’t stop and covered 47 K’s. There were tons of Locusts on the wing and the little bastards hurt when they flew into my face. I camped in a reserve which had some nice birdlife but was also home to tons of mozzie’s and ticks which was a pain. Today’s riding was a split of approx.. 50 / 50 dirt bitumen. The bike and trailer went well.
Slept well last night and was on the road by 0730. It was a very pleasant temperature. Headed down towards Doodlakine with the idea of picking up the old Goldfields road and using it to bypass Kellerberrin and then continue along it to York. En-route I stopped in at old Doodlakine, which is now only an information sign with a roof over it and the original well. I filtered 4 litres of water from the well and figured I may as well head off to Doodlakine wheat silo to use the outside power point to charge the batteries as opposed to using the genset. I figured there would be no-one there as it’s a small silo and Kellerberrin is only a few K’s down the road. Parp….wrong, turns our because it’s on the main railway line it’s still utilized, but the crew, who were a great bunch, let me charge the batteries which was great. It was quite hot today so the rest in the shade was a relief. After charging the batteries I rode through to Kellerberrin and did a ram raid on the local IGA. Bought a heap of cold drinks and a bit of fresh fruit and veg for the next 2 days down to York. I then rode out of town and camped. I had an elevated position with great internet signal and a gentle cool breeze once the sun set.
Slept very well last night and was up at 0515. Phaffed about as one does in the morning and went to take a pic with the good camera and discovered there was no memory card in it. After a frantic then more controlled search, I figured it was gone!! I thought about it and figured it must be at Doodlakine as I had transferred all my pics to the HDD I carry whilst I was waiting for the batteries to charge. With my ripper internet connection, I obtained the phone number for Doodly, then rang and explained my plight to them. After 15 minutes they rang back to inform me they had it in their hot little hands. So, back to Doodlakine it was, a round trip of 46 K’s, still, it’s a very expensive SD card as it can be written to at a rate of 280Mbs per sec which is what I require for the 4K video. En-route I came across an unusual tree, a species of which, like the Platypus, only exists here in Australia!!! By the time I got back to Kellerberrin it was stinkin’ hot, so the poor IGA suffered another ram raid. I hung around in the shade of a park, had a snooze on the bench and rode off towards York at about 4PM. I camp about 15 K’s out of town on another hill top. I’d like to say it had commanding views of the surrounding country but when all those views are wheat, it’s not really “commanding”!! Once the sun set it was very pleasant with a gentle breeze. The old Goldfields road is a good dirt road and very quiet in the way of traffic which I really like.
That “gentle” breeze lifted to a 33 KPH gale, my tent was pitched with the wrong orientation and I was perched on top of a bloody hill with nothing but wheat fields around me. Man, what a night!! Still, I got enough sleep. I re-joined the bitumen after visiting another well put in by Charles Hunt [he was responsible for the shoring up of the Doodlakine well] and the ride through to about 30 K’s East of York was reasonably uneventful, other than the temperature which was very high. One thing I did was had a nice wash in a fairly clear dam I passed. I’ve camped at Wallaby Hills reserve and charged the batteries.
I find sleeping a bit uncomfortable in the high temps. My tent doesn’t let much of a breeze through as it has “no seeum mesh” which is very very fine, although it does stop sand flies, which are insy binsy tiny little tackers….. Once up, I rode into York and visited the IGA for fresh veg and cool drinks. I met a fellow cycle tourer and we had a good old chinwag. He’s from UK and was here for 4 weeks. He wasn’t that impressed with WA as he couldn’t carry enough water. I thought afterwards that maybe he wasn’t that adaptable as I noted he actually had plenty of room to tie more 2 Litre plastic bottles to his bike. He was also a little overwhelmed by the distance between towns. I also had an interesting chat with an ex shearer. He was telling me stories of him and the team he was on shearing 40 thousand sheep up in the Kimberly and a lesser amount down in the Murchison area back in the day [late 50’s early 60’s]. He was an interesting bloke. I left York and rode up the hill towards the Lakes but turned off at the top onto Helena road, which is dirt and goes through the Wandoo Forrest. I really like the Wandoo forest area. The road was good and I was at Talbot road in no time. From there I cut onto a small service track which was gravel and then camped in the bush. I stopped early and charged the batteries. I find it easier to stop and charge the batteries with this little genset. With the Honda I could use the top of it to put stuff on as it has a decent cover but this isn’t so with the little unit. All in all, a good day, albeit quite hot.
It was a very peaceful night, no howling wind or traffic noise and I slept well. I was on the road at 0715. Things went well for maybe 3 K’s and then it all started going pair shaped! The track had been graded to get rid of the erosion and a really lousy job had been done. This meant there was an absolute shitload of loose sand mixed with pea gravel. The current bike I’m on is simply not meant for these conditions with its skinny rear tyre that acts like a plow disc in that stuff. The first 16 K’s took me 3 sweat drenched hours to cover, there was more pushing than riding. Pushing nearly 90 Kg up loose pea gravel and sandy hills is NOT my idea of fun, trust me on that! I suspect some of the trees are still reeling from the profanities they heard!! I slipped over with the bike coming down on top of me several times before I remembered I had my Micro Spikes [made by Kahtoola] with me. Once I had them on my boots things improved no end. I made it off the track to the road, which turned out to be not much better, particularly the last 11 K’s which was corrugated to the max, and then hit the Brookton Highway. In total, I fell off the bike at least 10 times, 2 of which were very hard and unexpected falls. Both of those falls really hurt, one on my hip and one on my head. The second of them, when I bashed my head [yes, I was wearing my helmet] I just lay where I fell, recovering and thinking to myself, “I’m too old for this shit!” Man, I’ve gotta say, it was hard work. The huge advantage over this current rig to the old one is the lesser effort to pick it all up when it falls over, which I’m hugely thankful for. When I hit the Brookton Hwy, I only had 2 litres of water left which was a bit concerning. I broke out the phone to see if there were any truck bays close at hand, the idea being that I would sit and wait for someone to stop and ask for a couple of litres of water. Well a Point of Interest showed up with the name of Christmas Tree Well, and it was only 800 meters away! You have to be shittin’ me I thought, either some sadistic bastard is taunting me or it’s either an Aboriginal water hole or an historic well, either way, I rode up to take a look. When I arrived I thought it was the sadistic bastard, but then I noticed some greenery and thought goody good a soak, I’ll dig a hole and get some water…….but then….. I heard a frog……and frogs mean water….and there was…. A friggin’ huge puddle, you little ripper. I got the genset set up and charging then filtered 6 Litres of water, which although it had a Tannin stain from the tree roots, was beautifully sweet. It was a great little place to camp and a nice end to an extremely hard day.
I was in the tent last night when a light started flashing around, I looked out and someone was checking out the waterhole in the dark, they then disappeared and returned with a ute and started going up and down to the water. I wasn’t sure what they were up to but I didn’t hear any chains rattling or big splashes so I figured they weren’t dumping a body, none the less, I exited the tent and slipped into the bush where I kept an eye on them until they left. I then went to sleep and voila, woke up alive this morning, which was a bonus!!!! I left there at 0800 and headed for Perth. My plan was to get to Armadale and then decide what to do. At Armadale I made the decision to head to my nephew’s and drop off the trailer, then head down to Fremantle and stay at the Prison YHA for a couple of days. I rang Luke and arranged to drop the trailer then proceeded in his direction. I dropped the trailer off, all whilst having a good chat to Luke, then headed off to Freo along the river, arriving at the hostel about 7 pm. All in all, a good day, although there was 5 Km’s of sheer terror whilst descending into Armadale down the Darling Scarp at speeds of up to 60 Kph. I learnt that 60 kph is the absolute top speed for my 90 Kg rig, let’s say things get interesting and I’m not sure who was the more terrified, me or the other innocent road users…….. ‘nuff said!!!!!
Due to the high temps during the day, I’ve decided to pack up the gear and head to Tassie. This morning I rode over to Bibra Lakes to a place, Follow My Ride, that sells ExtraWheel spares and bought a set of ExtraWheel nuts for the bike. As an aside, he [Bill] also sells and hires trailers / panniers for riders wishing to do any touring but who don’t necessarily want to buy the gear. For the purpose of the Tassie ride I’ve decided to leave the genset here and use hostel / caravan park accommodation. To that end, I hired a car at 1215, drove over to Luke’s, picked up the trailer and gear and drove to Muka, where I dropped everything off, picked up 2 more panniers and one of my ExtraWheel trailers. I was knackered and hit the hay early. My balance was a bit sketchy from the fall a couple of days ago as well.
Drove back to Perth, dropped into a pallet supplier and organised to have a pallet made for the bike so I can truck it to Melbourne, the guy gave me a business card so I can email him the details but I promptly lost that so I’ll have to ride back on Monday and see him. I dropped off the hire car at 1230, Uber’d it back to the hostel and repacked all my gear and fitted the trailer. Whilst doing this, the hire mob rang me to let me know I’d left my USB charging lead in the car so I used that as a test ride for the newly configured rig. I also picked up a new higher volume tyre for the trailer in Freo. The tyre turned out to be too fat and won’t fit into the forks on the trailer so it’ll go into my spares bin!!!!!
As a test ride, I had planned to head down South for a couple of days but when I woke up this morning I simply couldn’t be shagged!! So I’m staying put here at the hostel. I’ve also picked up 5 days’ work, which will fit in very nicely as the bike will take about a week to get to North Altona in Melbourne. I’ll hire a car and drive to work, which just happens to be just past Muka which is handy. During the ride I did to pick up the gear yesterday, I could see all will go well in Tassie with the new rig. There may be a couple of little issues but I doubt [hope] nothing major will turn up. If it does, I’ll just have to deal with it eh? OK, next time you all hear from me will either in Melbourne or Tassie. Stay tuned!
For you viewing pleasure, pics are here; :)