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--- News and reports ---

 

Nr.VII: Australia III

19.06.2008 (Katherine) - 07.12.2008 (Perth)

 

05.12.2008, Perth (Western Australia): Early morning – still in darkness – we are rolling out of Carnarvon. We think we’ll encounter headwinds, but we are lucky again, they don’t start before the later afternoon. Our progress is quick, which is our aim, as this leg of our journey leads through unvaried flat bush landscape and a roadhouse every 100-200 kilometers. Well motivated to reach the south soon, we achieve 480 kilometers within 3 days (see the longest days - time - at the superlatives), so we get 2 days early to the biggest town since we left the East Coast: Geraldton. The city has a nice center, a beach promenade and beautiful beaches. As we stay with a likeable host family, we take three days off, well, and finally book a flight to India... Yes, right, we have changed our plans – we will do Asia in the other direction. Next highlight on the way: the Pinnacles. These beautiful formations of limestone are not exactly on our way, but are worth the detour! We walk and cycle a whole afternoon through this bizarre landscape with its small and big limestone towers, which stick out of the sand. In the evening we camp at the edge of the National Park in the „spider camp“, in the middle of the bush with numerous spider webs and their inhabitans around us. From the coast we head inland again, another detour for another unusual sight: New Norcia, an old monastery. It lies in the middle of farm land and its church, the chapel, the residential buildings – all show architecture from the 19th century. We camp on the football field opposite the monastery, where we set up tent beside a caravan and a mobile home. New friendships with these other travellers allow us to spend a happy evening, before we cycle southwards the next morning. The end of all the flat areas has come, since we have left the coast we ride through a very hilly region – cattle country and wheat farming again. We don’t mind, actually we are pleased to finally get some good views. Kangaroos and emus are plentiful in the wine country before Perth (Chittering and Swan Valley), which – except from that – reminds us a lot of South Africa. The last kilometers into Perth we have to ride against headwinds, but the aim is close! We reach the center – another continent is mastered! We hold a „foto session“ in front of the „Swan Bell Tower“, a new landmark of Perth. After that we roll a couple of kilometers to our host family, which waved us „good-bye“ last January, when we started our tour around Australia. Feels a bit like coming home... We’ll spend the next days on „restoring“ our bicycles, sorting out our stuff, washing clothes, working on our website and if there is time – relaxing a bit, before we fly to the southernmost tip of India, Trivandrum, on the 7th of December...

   

  


 

18.11.2008, Carnarvon (Western Australia): It is still dark, when we leave Karratha und start riding southwestwards. In general the wind is coming with a speed of up to 40 km/h from the southwest at this time of the year. But today it should be different. The forecast says there should be northwind and we really don`t want to miss it. As soon as we are on the „North West Coastal Highway“ a hard wind is starting to push us. The forecast was right! Maybe a wonder? Anyhow, we are riding and riding and riding and try to make the most out of it. For the fifth time on the whole trip we manage to ride more than 200 kilometers in one day - it is also one of the days with the longest real-riding-time (see Superlatives)! Completely wasted we put up camp hidden from bushes beside the road. Also on the next day the wind is still a bit on our side and turns later during the day into a headwind. Then everything is again as it should be: Headwind, that already starts in the early morning hours and picks up in the afternoon to become almost „unrideable“. We are fighting through neger-ending bushland and reach the small village Coral Bay. An artificial oasis in dry desert-like surroundings. Turquoise waters, corals just in the bay... wow! We are snorkelling and see rays, colorful fish, shining coral. On one day we hop on a boat and take a trip further out, where we swim with Manta Rays (the largest kind of rays on earth) and see reef sharks. Back on the road we are fighting the wind again for another two days. The highlight in the flat bush country is the crossing of the Tropic of Capricorn, until we reach - after long days of riding - Carnarvon. We are hosted by Chris, a passionate cyclist himself, and spend two nice days in this friendly town, before we keep on heading into the winds again...

  

 

  


 

07.11.2008, Karratha (Western Australia): We are leaving Broome in midday-heat. Back on the bicycles the Arctic and Europe seem to be far away. We are back - travelling. In the first night a thunderstorm just misses us in close distance. On other nights cows are sniffing around our tent and we try to scare them off in the pitch-dark. The road leads us through boring, flat bush- and grass-country. The sun is blasting from a blue sky, temperatures are up to shocking 40 degrees, millions of flies are driving us crazy, distances between Roadhouses are around 200 kilometers and the headwinds (which start latest at lunchtime) are slowing us down to sometimes less than 10 km/h. We are again back to our trick of starting early. Getting up at 3 and start riding at 4am. At nighttime it is nice and cool, there are no flies, there is no wind and landscape-wise we are not missing out on much. We are pulling in at a watermelon-farm . The owner is a friend of Lorna and Peter from Broome, and people are already waiting for us to come. We get accomodation in a small house (with aircondition!) and Graham the manager is showing us around the 50 ha large farm, where 12 workers are picking 40 to 60 tons of melons every day, and takes us for a drive to the fantastic coast. After six days on the road we reach the mining-town Port Hedland. The houses are covered with reddish-dust and the mining- and port-facilities are dominating the place. On the way the axel of Valeskas rear-wheel broke. It was still possible to get here, but now it is finished. We can't get the part in Port Hedland and also in neighbouring cities, Broome (about 600 kilometers towards northeast) and Karratha (about 240 kilometer towards west) there is nothing to get. So we have to get a new wheel from Perth (about 2.000 kilometers away). We were lucky that friends in Perth could manage the transport for us, otherwise we would have been stuck in Port Hedland for even longer. We are sitting here for four days, before we can continue riding west for another two long and windy days until we reach Karratha, where we are hosted by David. We are riding with his boat to the near islands, enjoying the beaches, „skurfing“ behind the boat, chill out in the evenings in his „swimmingpool“ and go for bowling afterwards. Our bikes are loaded  again: with food for another six days on the road, 15 liters of water are on board, we are ready for our next leg southwestwards...

   

  


21.10.2008, Broome (Western Australia): After two months of working as guides on expedition-cruises around Spitzbergen and East-Greenland, and a short stop in Austria, in order to see family and friends, we are back in Broome. Up to 40 degrees air temperature and 30 km/h wind from southwest – which means headwinds for our travels. The sky is cloudless, the sea is 30 degrees warm and the beaches fantastic! We get our bicycles ready, buy food for the first days and try to get used to the heat again and overcome our jet-lag. With our hosts Lorna, Peter, Scott and dog Barney we are enjoying the gorgeous sunsets on the beach. We have packed, the chains are lubricated – tomorrow we will be on the road again – it is more than 600 kilometers to the next small town – but there are two roadhouses in between...

  

 


05.09.2008, Ittoqqotoormiit (Greenland): After three fantastic trips around Svalbard (Spitzbergen), with lots of landings and hikes, we are sailing over to Greenland. At the cross-over rough sea greets us, but after two long days we finally reach Eastern-Greenland. We will be here all September, working as guides in the largest Fjord-systems of the world – Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, Scoresbysund,… Gigantic icebergs, hikes in the Tundra, the highest peaks of Greenland and Northern Lights are waiting for us. Fantastic :-)

  

 


 

03.08.2008, Longyearbyen (Spitzbergen, Svalbard): While riding west we notice that we should get some money on our accounts, so we decide to take a break from cycling and work for two months. As in the previous years the Arctic/Antarctic specialist „Oceanwide Expeditions“ (www.oceanwide-expeditions.com) employs us for working on small vessels (50 passengers) as guides. After a few days relaxing in Broome, we fly via Austria – where we see family and friends and exchange our t-shirts and sandals with thick fleece jackets and hiking boots – to Svalbard to 78 degrees North. We have been living here for some years before we started our cycling trip, so it feels good to be „back home“. Check out www.philipp-schaudy.net for our previous adventures up there. Our first 10-day-tours in August will lead us around the archipelago looking for birds, glaciers, polar bears and doing lots of hiking. In September we will set sail for Greenland...

  

   

 


 

18.07.2008, Broome (Western Australia): We are leaving Katherine westwards. It doesn’t take long and we run into a solo-cyclist at a rest area. Paul started riding in Melbourne and is on his way around Australia (see cyclists we met). We (Valeska and Philipp) want to ride the „Gibb River Road” – a famous dirt road across the Kimberleys (with all detours about 800 kilometers), with only two roadhouses and nothing more for infrastructure. For Australians this road is something like a „last frontier”. First Paul wanted to take the highway, but decides to join us on „the Gibb“. In Kununurra, the last town before we are leaving the bitumen, we load food for 10 days and send (with a tourist group) another 10 days of supplies to a roadhouse in the middle of the track. Once we have left the bitumen, we are riding in Sand, on corrugations and in dust. We usually get a friendly wave from the drivers of the 4X4-vehicles when they are passing us in full speed, covering us in a cloud of orange dust and spitting rocks up to our heads. 90% of all are not getting one km/h slower when passing us. The behavior on the road towards slower traffic is all very rude around Australia (as we mentioned sometimes before). Here on the dirt-road it is worst. Unbelievable! It is good that there is not much traffic. The track itself gets quite rough too and we are bouncing along. Anyway, fantastic nature makes us forget about the road and the cars. Boab-trees along the way, hills and rock-walls in red-orange color. Almost every day we are passing gorges or doing detours to see them. Steep cliffs, clear running water with palm-trees on the sides. Small oasis in the hot and dry northwest of Australia. Water-pools are inviting for a swim and waterfalls are giving our shoulders a good massage. Sometimes we are completely alone, taking a long swim through gorges and explore marvelous corners. We are camping at small creeks, which also still carry water, beside palm-trees, jump again into the water at the end of the day and sit for hours by the warm campfire, since temperatures are dropping to just a few degrees above zero at night. There should be freshwater-crocodiles (which won’t harm humans) in many of the rivers. But we only see them once when we visit a nice gorge far off the main track. Many times we have to ford rivers, which is not a big deal, except it is known that there are saltwater-crocodiles (they eat everything and anyone). But we see none of those and the rivers in question are soon behind us. We meet many snakes along this track, but they disappear too fast in the bush and we can’t identify them. We are taking our time on „the Gibb”, doing almost every detour to gorges and enjoy our great camp-spots, campfires and the rivers. After 13 days together on the road Paul and us, we split up again. It was a good time, but Paul wants to continue in his own pace, having a day off that day. We meet some other cyclists on the track (see cyclists we met) and since a long time other interesting travelers (see other vehicles). After in total 800 kilometers dirt (see superlatives) we are back on bitumen und reach, completely covered in dust, the small town Derby. After a break of one day we keep on rolling another 230 kilometers to Broome. The city has 14.000 inhabitants, but right now there are more than 30.000 people here. Every day has around 30 degrees, nobody can remember when the last cloud was seen on the sky, the beaches are spotless white and the water is invitingly turquoise. High-season up here! We are camping in perfect shade in the garden of our lovely hosts Peter and Lorna and enjoy the summer-flair (in wintertime) of the town...

  

 

 

  

 

 


 

19.06.2008, Katherine (Northern Territory): It is a relatively short ride from Mt. Isa to the border between Queensland and the Northern Territory - from open grassland into the big nothing. No fruits, no nuts and no animals are allowed to be transported across the border, due to the strict quarantine laws applying. We try like crazy to get rid of the hundreds of flies, wich are buzzing around our heads, before we cross the line - not to get in conflict with the law. Impossible! But it seems that the bringing-in of flies is accepted - they stay with us and nobody wants to take them away. The country looks flat and boring. No trees, no shrubs, only dry grassland as far as the eye can see. Cows are staring at us with price-winning faces and start jogging along with us on the other side of the fence. At least there is something happening along those never ending really boring kilometers. At Three Ways (a roadhouse) we get to the Steward Highway and change direction from going west to going north. It is a fast change in vegetation from almost nothing to more and more dense bush- and treeland along the straight road. As soon as we have left the farmland behind, the flies are gone. A miracle! After days with permanently having the fly-net on, we can finally cycle and eat without it. There is only one village on our way: Elliott. It is an aboriginal settlement that looks a bit run down. We have no other chance but buying food in the far too expensive shop, where we pay up to 10 times more for a product than in a supermarket! The children are waving and people are friendly. We are talking about our trip. In comparison to the "gray nomads" (see previous entry) who, after they have asked "Where from?", "Where to?" and "How many punctures?", don't know what to talk with us, talking with the indigenos Australians is more exciting for both sides. We get asked about camping in the bush, how we get rid of the flies and the problem of getting water. In return we get to know where we will find the next water, how far it is to the next places and what we should take care about when we are bush camping. Those people can obviously understand our way of travelling much better than grandpa and grandma in their monster-caravan, for whom we are only "little green aliens". We meet a Belgian cycling couple along the way, who are riding from China to New Zealand (see cyclists we met) - against the wind. We still have a more or less good tailwind every day on our way north. Although it is winter, temperatures are high (around 30) and the sun is trying to burn us off the saddle. The UV-radiation is extremely aggressive. Up to three times a day we put sunscreen factor 30+ on, but still the sun is too much. We decide to buy something to wear with long sleeves when we get the next chance. In Mataranka we stop and take a long swim in the warm springs - a creek, whose warm, clear water is slowly floating through a lush-green oasis. It is fantastic! On the next day we are riding to Katherine, where we are warmly welcomed by Claire and Marc. A fantastic day we spend in and around Katherine gorge, where we are hiking to waterholes with waterfalls, cross the river a couple of times by swimming (where we can see crocodiles – freshwater ones, so they shouldn’t be a problem) and finally do a boat tour in the afternoon. Philipp's bicycle needs some more attention again and the spokes of the back wheel have to be fixed. We fill our panniers up with food for the next part and discuss our future-steps in Australia and the rest of the world...

 

 

 

 


  

   

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