Wednesday, 14 October 2015


Fremantle 14 Oct
My last blog post was late September from Fitzroy Crossing.  Its nearly a fortnight later and many thousands of kilometres south.   Since my last post we have:

  • Ridden from Fitzroy Crossing to Broome in oppressive tropical heat
  • Spent several days bumming around in Broome, enjoying many mango flavoured treats and creepy tales of mangrove mud-men. 
  • Pulled our bikes apart, put them into cardboard boxes, flown from Broome to Perth and then reconstructed our bikes in the baggage collection area of Perth Airport.
  • Met up with three different sets of relatives - as you do when visiting your home town.
  • Organised a night to catch up with as many Perth mates as I could - which inevitably ended as a night of heavy drinking at the pub. 
  • Placed spare parts orders for our bikes after discovering that pretty much all the bike shops in Perth cater to the road racing set and that they order touring bike parts when from the same Melbourne shops we know and love.
  • Planned a day of  birthday fun for Maree 
  • Enjoyed a day trip riding around Rottnest Island.

All these thoughts of flying and the time I've spent arranging and visiting Perth friends and relatives has changed my focus.  When I was on the road and it looked like that's where would be for the foreseeable future I was focused on the experience, taking notes every day, taking photos and writing up a detailed account of the past day's travel each time we got a bit of internet access.    Deciding to fly to Perth changed my headspace and made me consider life outside the ride, people I'd not seen for years and even what happens when its all over.  Time I've previously spent writing about the ride has been spent organising Perth meetups - and even brushing up skills that could be useful when the ride is done.

The ride
On the road from Fitzroy Crossing to Broome I spent most of my 'hiding from the midday sun' rest breaks doing some coding.  Last year I learnt a bit of python, and I've been using it to clean up information that's stored on some excel spreadsheets.  Hardly gripping stuff, but its a challenging beginner level problem that applies what I've learnt and stops me from getting rusty.  If I get the code to work the way I want to, it will be useful at work.  Its been fun.   There's something pretty wonderful about coding in the bush on a device that you can keep charged using the bike's dynamo lighting system.  It's the fulfilment of the "you can work from anywhere - who needs an office" fantasy we all bought into when we bought our first laptop computer.

Foggy dawn at the campsite
The cool of the morning turns oppressive humidity into fog on the road into Broome

Broome, of course, on the ocean and the north western extent of the ride.  We celebrated by heading to the beach and wetting our feet in the ocean.  Our last view of the ocean in mid July as we ascended the Adelaide Hills.

Sunrise over Roebuck Bay
One evening we ordered a take away dinner and took it to a hill above the mangroves.  We watched hordes of  bats leave their mangrove roost as the sun set.  Our spot was a little secluded, away from the main tourist drag and near an aboriginal community.  As we ate Marie and Tommy, two residents joined us.  Marie told us that the mangroves were dangerous at night - that spirit people,  mud men, attacked people who wandered into the mangroves at night and drowned them in the mangrove stink.  Having scared the willies out of us with the perfect ghost story, she then told us that there were people who got fighting drunk in the community, so hanging around the community after dark probably wasn't a good idea.  We took their advice and quickly moved on.

A sea eagle keeps sentinel over the mangroves
If you are planning to visit Broome and you have some flexibility with your timetable, aim to be there near the full moon, when the tides are at their greatest extent.  There are two natural phenomena that we missed, but you ought to see if you can.  The first is 'Staircase to the Moon', the reflection of the full moon on the shallow waters of Roebuck Bay, the second is the dinosaur trackway off Gantheaume point. Most days the dinosaur tracks are hidden by ocean, but on the lowest tides of the month the sea recedes to reveal theropod footprints from the cretaceous period frozen in the rocks..  (We were dead keen to see these treats, didn't get the timing right.  I wish you better luck).

I have visited Rottnest Island as a child many times.  I've ridden much of the island, but for all my childhood adventures I never made it to the west end of the island.  In my mind it was this distant, almost impossible destination.  When planning the ride making to the west end was one of my goals.
It turns out the west end is only 11km from the Tompson Bay Jetty and if you are reasonably fit and are riding something other than an ill fitting, slightly rusty single speed hire bike its quite a manageable ride.

We finished the Rottnest circuit ride earlier than expected and spent a few hours at the settlement enjoying icecreams and watching the quokkas. It was a great day.

Rottnest is an island of beautiful bays
Pelican roost - A reason to build those lamp poles strong. 
Mother quokka with upside down baby in pouch
Baby quokka emerges from pouch
Baby returns for a feed 
Away from the settlement most quokkas thrive on wild foods
Although the smell of fresh bread in a pannier bag can be irresistible
And daring quokkas will stick their heads into the front wheel to stop you from riding away
Shop keepers on the island don't find quokkas quite as appealing as tourists do.

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