One Step Forward, One Step Back: Quarading to Northam - A treadling Hyohakusha - CycleBlaze

November 19, 2017

One Step Forward, One Step Back: Quarading to Northam

Roads I know
19/11/2017, Sunday
73 km

I've travelled these roads before a couple of times in the car and once on a bike ride going in the other direction, so it is more or less familiar ground. But the great thing about the wheatbelt is that it's laced with many small interconnected back roads and so many ways to get from point A to B that you never run out of options, never covering the same ground twice. I just wandered from road to road, heading NorthWest in the general direction of Corrigin and Quarading, two of those small country towns that populate the wheatbelt. I had no plan to get there in one day, figuring I'd find somewhere quiet to camp along the way. That hard push from Norseman to Hyden had worn me down a bit and the quiet ride through the wheatbelt is always best done slowly.

There was no harvesting today, it's Sunday and the crop was still a bit wet from yesterday's rain. I think I saw maybe a dozen cars all day, most of them curious farmers who wanted to chat. I stopped for the day at the old Bendering community. Like so many of the places out here, there's not much left of it: a plaque where the old school house once stood and the abandoned community hall. But there was an abundance of flat ground and great trees to camp under. One thing I've noticed: the further west I go the more mosquitoes there are...

Another fantastic day riding quiet country lanes with cool temperatures, cloud cover and gentle breezes.

Brunch in Corrigin tomorrow...

To Wamenusking
20/11/2017, Monday
80 km

It was a quiet morning ride of 40 km into Corrigin and a second breakfast at the local cafe. There wasn't much traffic on the back road until I got close to town and then only a couple of farm vehicles and two or three trucks bound for the wheatbins. I put on the bright orange safety vest first thing this morning in anticipation of the harvest trucks. While I was in town I picked up a couple of copies of a free map from the local shire tourism info office that shows the local area from Quarading to Hyden in great detail.

Checking WikiCamps on my phone, I could see there was a free camp site at the Wamenusking Community Recreation Centre about another 40 km ahead. With a name like that, I just had to investigate. The info on WikiCamps gave little detail, but hinted that you should get permission to camp there. I plotted a route through more of the small farming back roads and figured I'd get there with plenty of time before dark to sort it all out and set up my tent. The spot was fairly easy to find, located a couple of hundred metres from the road. Unfortunately, there was no one there to get a camping ok from and no phone number to call... and no cell phone signal either. So, I just made myself comfortable, pitching my tent on the concrete slab alongside the main building. I had shelter from the wind, a place to set up my kitchen and cook, free power and water. 

There was little traffic on the road after sunset, and I figured no one knew I was there for the night as no one came around to check up on me. Well into the night they were harvesting wheat in a big paddock opposite the Rec Centre. I don't know when they finished as I dropped off to sleep quite quickly.

Temperature today was a pleasant 28 degrees, but with a fairly brisk headwind. It was a good day for riding.

Quarading: Rendezvous on the Yellow Brick Road...
21/11/2017, Tuesday
30ish km

Today was the day to rendezvous with my wife at Rellie #3: Lindsay's farm on the outskirts of Quarading. I had to look out for a sign that read "Yellow Brick Road" just before I got to town. Turns out the sign is facing in the other direction when you come into town from the south and it is hardly a road - more a sandy farm track. And there was no Tin Man or Wizard, but there were lots of flies and there was a sign. And it was hot; about 34 degrees by the time I made it to town mid morning. My wife showed up a couple of hours later. She found the road, no problem.

Lindsay was busy on the harvest, so we just dropped the bike and gear on his back veranda and headed to the Kalgoorlie funeral.

Harry's funeral
22 to 24/11/2017
0 km

Yeah, this is a bike touring site, so let's keep it short.

It was strange travelling all the way back to Kalgoorlie so quickly; covering what took me the better part of a week to do on a bike in just a few quick hours in the car. And then back to Quarading - again so quickly. Combined with a funeral and a grieving wife, it was a very disconcerting three days.

I ate a fly...
25/11/2017, Saturday
20 km

We didn't get back to Quarading til late in the afternoon. It was a fairly hot day, mid 30s, and when I pulled the bike out, it had a flat tyre. Over the next hour I tried three different tubes and all failed within minutes of putting them on the wheel. All of them were well used and had small pin hole slow leaks. I did have a spare heavy duty thorn proof tube in the car, so resorted to it in the end. That solved the problem, but once again it had me dreaming of tubeless tyres...

Heading for town from the farm, I was breathing through my mouth (mouth open) while pedalling down the road. I didn't really swallow the fly, but by the time I finally coughed it up and spat it out, it wasn't about to fly off. I think I was spitting out bits of it for hours. Amazingly, that's the first one of this trip.

I got about 15 km down the main road to York, turned right up a nice looking dirt road, did some more wandering about and finally found an unfenced stony paddock to camp in. I needlessly pulled the bike way off the road thinking that I needed to camp stealthfully. I could have safely pitched the tent in the middle of the road; it is that quiet out here. I encountered absolutely no traffic from the time I pulled off of the main York road until mid day next morning when a couple of farmers passed me heading in the other direction.

Once I had made my dinner, the mozzies forced me into the tent for an early night and I was sound asleep as soon as my head hit the improvised pillow.


28/11/2017, Sunday

106 km

The mossies and I got up early and I quickly broke camp and pushed the bike out to the dirt road. From there it was a series of left and right turns through the wheat belt, wandering my way to Rellie #4, Diane and Rob, in Northam. It was a hot day, about 36 degrees by mid day, but a quiet and peaceful ride through farm land. I hit the edge of town around 1500 hrs and stopped off at the McDonalds to cool down and recover before pedalling up the hill to Dianes for the night. 

The wheatbelt has numerous old relics like this, many derelict, but a few lovingly preserved like this community hall just outside of Northam. It also had a plumbed toilet and drinking water out the back. It would have been a great place to stop for the night.
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