Onward to Kalgoorlie: Riding out Stage II ... with vegetables - A treadling Hyohakusha - CycleBlaze

September 22, 2017

Onward to Kalgoorlie: Riding out Stage II ... with vegetables

24-09-2014 Sunday
50ish km
Beyond Cosmo: Giles Breakaway

I'm writing these entries from penned notes put down at the end of each day and this day's entry starts with the words "can't remember much of today." I do remember rolling into Cosmo Newberry and no one was home. It was like a ghost town, completely void of any human activity. I saw no one, not a soul. The shop was closed. It was Sunday and reading a note on the shop window I discover it's a long weekend holiday, as well. It is the Queen's Birthday holiday. Being a Commonwealth country, we still pay homage to the Queen of England. Except it's not really her birthday today. We like our annual holidays, there are 10 in every state and apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day, they are cunningly devised to always fall on either a Monday or Friday: voila - three day holiday weekends!! It is a great excuse to have one of those holiday three day weekend though, and every state celebrates it on a different date - tomorrow is West Australia's turn, so the shop in Laverton will be closed tomorrow, too.

I guess everyone in Cosmo Newberry is celebrating by sleeping in - didn't know they were so patriotic. The water tap is working though, so I get out my now empty water containers, soap and wash cloth, fill up the containers, have a good wash up at the tap, rinse out my sweat stained dusty shirt, put it back on to dry out, load up the bike and I'm off.

I camped the night at Giles Breakaway. There is no road sign marking the turnoff, so I overshot and had to backtrack finding the turnoff using my phone's GPS map. It's a great campsite, right on the edge of the breakaway plateau overlooking the bush. The grey nomads camp here on their way north/south, so I had company. I'm offered a cold beer by one group; I don't refuse. The wind is still blowing strongly and the ground is too hard to peg, so I pitch the tent using some of the plentiful supply of large rocks. Tomorrow I ride out of the desert and into "civilisation" again. Laverton has a caravan park, a shop, and a pub. The shop will be closed, but not the pub - hooray!! beer and a counter meal!! And I'll be back on the bitumen again. Up on the breakaway I can also get a phone signal and spend an hour talking to friends and family.

Life is good.

25 & 26-09-2017 Monday & Tuesday
50 km
Laverton & my kidneys are talking to me...

During the night I had to get up several times to pee. I've been drinking enough water, but I think my kidneys are telling me that cookies and candybars are not their preferred diet. I keep up this annoying peeing every 45 minutes all the way into Laverton the next morning. It will take my body another 48 hours to come right. This is a lesson I will not soon forget.

The bitumen road begins again about 10 km before Laverton. I get off the bike and kiss it when I get to the start of it. I am greeted by Bobby and Owen at the caravan park; they arrived yesterday and will be staying here for a week investigating the local architecture. The campsite is clean and tidy, but feels a bit expensive ($25 to pitch a tent on the grass) after free camping in the bush for a week. The pub meal went down well, but my kidneys inform me that the schooner of beer was a mistake.

Tuesday is a rest day and I replenish my supplies at the supermarket: fruit and veges are high on the list. From here to Kalgoorlie I will never be more than a day's ride from fresh food and water. By Tuesday afternoon my body is starting to recover and I can make friends with my warring kidneys and bladder again. But I'm off the beer, cookies and candybars for the duration of this ride. Well, maybe the odd beer every now and again...

27-09-2017 Wednesday
88 km
Working my way to Leonora

Not much to report. It's approximately 125 km from Laverton to Leonora and with the headwind, I decide to take it easy and camp up short of my destination. If I'm paying for accommodation, I like to get a full day's use for my fee. From Laverton there is increasing mine site activity, this is gold country. And the road traffic kicks up accordingly. I have to deal with the heavy traffic flow from the big rigs heading north to the new mine site and now all of the traffic servicing the closer established mines. But at least it's a bitumen road and I don't have to worry about the dust. I am still wearing my bright orange safety vest and running with my head and tail lights on and spend most of my time scanning my rear view mirror. The truck drivers are for the most part very courteous and give me plenty of room when passing. In turn, I move off the road well in advance if it's obvious we are getting crowded and things will be tight. I now can recognise many of the rigs and their drivers often give me a friendly toot and wave when they roll past - we're family. This will continue all the way in to Kalgoorlie...

Both sides of the road are fenced and after the wide open space of the unfenced outback, it takes some getting used to, especially when I start looking for a place to camp late in the afternoon. At 88 km I pass by a creek that is holding water and there are cattle all over the road coming and going from the creek bed. I find an unfenced dirt track that heads off the road and spend the night camped up, sharing the creek bed with a herd of cattle. In the middle of the night when their curiosity gets the better of them and they get a bit too too close for comfort, I jump up out of the tent, hoot and holler and make a fire to let them know this is my spot for the night, not theirs. In the light of my headtorch their big slanted eyes spookily glow hot white. They finally spook and rumble off into the night to find another sleeping place for the night.

28 & 29-09-2017 Thursday & Friday
36 km
Leonora and the prospectors

Much of the 36 km into Leonora is through a road work site where I get a free escorted ride from the site traffic manager, so I'm into town early and with little effort on my part. First stop is the local cafe for one of their self-acclaimed sausage rolls for my second breakfast. It lives up to the reputation. Then off to the supermarket for more fresh food.

The caravan park is filled with independent prospectors and that evening they happily fill me in on the fascinating world of gold prospecting. Most of them are using the latest state of the art hand held detectors and I learn all about how they are used and where they do their prospecting. I thought all of the best ground would be both pegged and heavily patrolled, but apparently not. These men and women are making good finds on a daily basis and I get to see some of today's discoveries; chunks of quartz veined with bits of gold. They do well enough that the local cops patrol within the caravan park several times a night. Collectively there must be a fair amount of gold stuffed under their mattresses. They are a lively bunch of characters; fiercely independent, opinionated and proud.

I'm still recovering from the GCR, so Friday is a rest day and I spend it checking out the museum and ghost town at Gwalia. My wife grew up in Bullfinch, another now mostly abandoned farming/gold mining community on the edge of the W.A. wheatbelt. But unlike Bullfinch, which has for the most part has been bulldozed into the ground, Gwalia's ghost town has been preserved in its original state and left open for the public to wander through. The museum is also free entry ($2 gold coin donation at each site, please) and both are worth the time spent poking about.

30-09-2017 Saturday
87 km
Pacing my way into Kalgoorlie

It's about 235 km from Leonora to Kalgoorlie and I'm trying to plot out the daily distances to get there on Tuesday, the 3rd of October. There is a modest tailwind forecast on the 2nd and a huge one forecast for the 3rd. I want to be blown into town with a big smile on my face, so I carefully plan my route accordingly.

But today is a moderate headwind all the way and even though Menzies is only 104 km from Leonora, I decide to take it easy and camp up short of town and spend a relaxed Sunday in Menzies. Menzies was once a booming mining centre, but now is nothing more than an an ornate town hall redolent of its former glory, a small cafe, a pub, the post office and two self serve petrol bowsers. I plan to spend my Sunday reading and relaxing.

It's a long day slowly tapping out the kilometres and about 15 km from Menzies I turn off on a likely looking side track and find a great campsite not far from the rail line. For firewood, there's a waste pile of old Jarrah railway sleepers at easy reach, so I set up camp and get a tidy campfire started well before dark. The rail track is paralleled by an abandoned line of exquisite perfectly preserved antique iron telegraph poles, complete with intact porcelain insulators, stretching off to the horizon. They would be worth a fortune in the city...

At dusk the very amorous bush flies depart, the stars come out and I spend an hour or two cooking my dinner and staring into the campfire. I sleep soundly, barely registering the one train that goes through in the middle of the night.

01-10-2017 Sunday
90 km
A rethink

I made the 18 km into Menzies quickly and was there before 0900. First thing I did was check out the wind forecast to make sure I still had two days of tailwinds before me. Good thing I did because the forecast had changed considerably. Today, my planned rest day was mild tailwinds and Monday would be mild tailwinds. Tuesday would be gale force headwinds from the south.

Aw nuts...

So I phoned Bev, the rellie in Kalgoorlie informing her of my new ETA, gathered up a new supply of water, two bacon and egg sandwiches to go and a hot coffee; downed one of the sandwiches and the coffee and set off at pace for Kalgoorlie.

With about 60 km to go to Kalgoorlie and worrying about finding a good campsite further down the road closer to civilisation, I pulled off at a level crossing over the rail line and plunged off into the bush confident that no one saw me sneaking off the road. I found a likely looking camp site and set about making camp. A few minutes later I could hear vehicles in the distance, but was confident they couldn't possibly be heading towards my secluded well hidden camping site. I laughed out loud when around the corner appeared a convoy of three like minded 4wd campers. We had a good laugh at our mutual surprise and they set up their camp a couple hundred metres up the track.


I needn't have worried about finding good spots to stealth camp closer to Kalgoorlie; there are plenty of good spots to squirrel yourself away right up to the town boundary. I took my time enjoying the tailwind and an early hour long lunch break cleaning out my food supplies. And I still made it into town by late morning.

Took the obligatory photo with the bike propped up against the town's welcome sign, found my way to Bev's place with little effort and sat down to a hot cup of tea.

Add Kalgoorlie to the list... Never thought I'd make it this far. Bike is toast and requires a total rebuild. Rider needs a rebuild, too
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Both the bike and I made it, just... The bike needs a major overhaul: the back wheel rim is split. That explains why, since Alice Springs, I kept getting flats in the same spot on the rim side. I'm amazed it held together that long. The bottom bracket bearings have worn to bits with the crank arms wobbling alarmingly from side to side. The complete drive train also needs replacement.

And I somehow have lost about 10 kg, most of that in the last fortnight. The bike I can easily rebuild in a day. The body will take a bit longer.

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