Around Australia – Heading East (and home)

We left the south west corner of Western Australia on a very wet and miserable day. When the sun did come out, the glare on the road was really bad, but we got to see rainbows in the rear view mirrors. The next thing on our list was to visit some big trees. We passed through lots of towns ending in ‘up’, which means place, like Nannup and Manjimup and they all had great food and coffee, too bad we weren’t working up an appetite sitting on the bike.

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Now that’s a wagon wheel

A few towns along the way had been yarn-bombed, but Bridgetown was the best so far.

I found the big Diamond Tree which you could climb and had a fire lookout at the top. It was 53 metres up a dodgy set of spikes going around the tree. Grandpa didn’t believe me that I was going to climb it. It did look a long way up and the spikes were a long way apart and cold. No matter, off I went. It didn’t take long and the view once you popped out above the surrounding forest made it worthwhile.

Then there was the tree-top walkway to get a really close look at the Karri trees for those not into climbing.

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Our next camp was at Denmark where we could see the full moon rising over the sea. Much more private than the “Staircase to the moon” at Broome.

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The next day the rainy weather continued, we knew the weather would be like this in these parts. It really was winter but we were getting used to it now, 2 pairs of gloves, thermals and plastic bags in the boots helped to keep us warm and dry. Albany was an interesting place but wet so we continued to Hopetoun on the coast. The rain had eased a bit but the wind was blowing so hard it blew me and the bike over when I foolishly parked side onto it down by the water. The pub had a fantastic fire box which could have kept us warm all night though.

Next stop was Norseman and then off across the Nullabor and the big, long straight. The weather had cleared by then so we made camp at a roadside stop just past Madura (which had THE most expensive fuel of the trip $1.99/l) and had a lovely fire, the best camp of all. We came across this ingenious way of getting water in the middle of the desert. A big roof and some tanks, probably only catches the dew, but it was enough for us. The Roadhouses along the way will not let you have any water, you have to buy it in a bottle.

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The next day we were back in South Australia and it got slightly warmer. This is where the cliffs start along the Great Australian Bight and we had to stop at all of the lookouts. It is amazing scenery and you get the sense of what a big island Australia is surrounded by all that ocean. The last one at the Head of the Bight was where the whales come to calve and play with their babies. The new viewing platforms meant that you could see them closer than if you were on a boat. If you look close you can see a tail! (the phone doesn’t zoom very well).

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Still cold, wet and windy so we stayed at a dodgy Motel/Roadhouse. Where the German manager did a fantastic job of keeping the locals in line. A big day’s ride to Port Augusta the next day and the highlight for me was seeing the setting sun on the Flinders Range coming into Port Augusta. One day I am coming back for a walk. We set up camp and then found the best old pub by the water, Hotel Augusta with good food and beer and ambience. We nearly ended up spending the night. Somewhere along the road today, there was a town claiming to be the halfway point across Australia but all we saw was a bloody big galah!

So cold, cold, cold that when we stopped at a little place called Orroroo we bought thermal socks and had the very best pie of the trip at the Gum Tree Café if you are ever passing through. This was also home to a gigantic gum tree.

We wanted to see Broken Hill on our way home but in typical fashion, we only had time for a brief drive-by and then on our way the next day. The winter rain had been heavy all over and some of the roads we wanted to take were dirt and we didn’t fancy riding on mud, so we headed south to Wentworth  where the Darling flows into the Murray and then along the Hay plain. Our last stop was at the Bland Hotel in Quandialla and a quick hello to Daniel.

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And so back home again. My first thought when going inside was “What is this place? Oh yeah this is a house”. It felt very strange to be inside after being outside for all that time but gee it felt good to have a shower and find some other clothes that I hadn’t been wearing for the last 6 weeks.

We had such a great time, yes it was tiring and yes we would do it again, sometime later and maybe in the car with a kayak. The next day Kevin hopped on the bike and did the remaining 40km so we topped 16 000kms!! The bikes were really great even if they did cost a fortune to service and of course we have already started talking about where our next adventure will be too.

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Cooma Coolness

It was great to be able to organise a four day weekend and join the pensioners. The Cooma Monaro Historic Car Club runs the Girder Fork rally for the old bikes in October but last year started a rally for pre-1960 cars. Well, we now have the MG and haven’t taken it for a long run, so we were in. Some friends and club members were going also, so there would be lots of chat whenever we stopped for cuppas and fuel.

We left the Top of Razorback and followed the side roads through the Southern Highlands avoiding the highway as usual. The weather was great and the car was running like a charm. How sweet it is to have a Friday off, it feels more special.  I had spent quite a bit of time thinking about an outfit to wear in the MG 1936 style. I have my grandmother’s rabbit fur, culottes which are better for getting in and out of the car (and which are actually in fashion at the moment) and a cute hat leftover from my chemo episode.

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There were five cars, our MG TA, an MGA, Chrysler, Model A Ford and Morris. We tried out some bakeries and cafes along the way at Exeter and Bungendore, travelling on our stomachs as usual. We arrived at our motel in Cooma to hear that one car had collided with a kangaroo who sadly didn’t live to tell the tale.

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Saturday morning dawned rather frosty and chilly. It soon warmed up after we set off on our run to Dalgety and Bombala, so we put the roof down to really enjoy the whole day. Another wildlife encounter saw the MGA narrowly miss a feral deer. At the lunch stop there was voting for your favourite car and later at the dinner., guess whose car was voted #1 car of the rally, OURS. Can’t argue with that.

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Sunday was just a short run to Berridale to finish the rally for those heading home today. All of our group were staying til Monday, so we kept driving to Jindabyne, back through Dalgety then a back road to Cooma. We love this road through wide open Monaro plains and bushy hills.

It also goes through what must have been an old settlement, with a lovely old church and a very impressive house which just happened to be for sale at the moment. The little car looks good parked outside, doesn’t it?

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Monday morning was frosty again and we left earlier so it was a bit chilly. I started thinking about how cold it will be on the bike when we leave on our BIG trip. It sooned warmed up though and we had another trouble-free run home. What a great little car, it only used about 2 litres of oil the first day, but it is still running in…