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Cycling across Australia PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

CYCLING ACROSS AUSTRALIA

PERTH to BRISBANE via BROKEN HILL 

3,064 Miles (4,900 km) in 57 Days

June to August 2000

Margaret and Barry Williamson

Here is anRTW_2000_005.jpg edited version of the diary we kept when we cycled across Australia, from Perth to Brisbane via Broken Hill, in the summer (or Antipodean winter) of 2000. This was the start of a round-the-world journey which totalled 12,000 miles (19,200 km) and included Singapore, New Zealand, Fiji and the crossing of the USA from Los Angeles to Key West.

Australia has changed to the metric system, on RTW_2000_019.jpgthe whole. But they have kept place names such as '9-mile Creek', their sheds (an Australian icon) are measured in feet and land is sometimes in acres. At the time of travel, we got 2.5 dollars for each of our English pounds. ATM's are everywhere and credit cards are readily accepted in shops, with 'cash back'.

For more information on travel in Australia, see our: Travel Notes Australia. This was written for motorhomers, but much of it is also relevant to travel by bicycle.

Tables of distances and times for the ride across Australia and for the complete round-the-world bicycle ride are given at the end of this diary.

For a slide show of the 39 images which are also embedded in the text, click here.

For a summary of the whole ride, click here.

Before we start, and to give you a sense of Australian roads: How big is a Road Train?

 Truck/Road Train  Maximum Length  Maximum Weight
 Prime Mover & Semi-trailer  19 metres or 62 ft  42.5 tonnes
 Rigid Truck & Trailer  19 metres or 62 ft  48 tonnes
 Full Size B-double (Long Vehicle)  25 metres or 82 ft  62.5 tonnes
 Double Road Train  36.5 metres or 120 ft  79 tonnes

Here is a Map of the Journey

Australia_2000_Cycle_Ride.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 June 2000     By train to London

Leaving our motorhome safely stored in a barn at a Dorset farm, we caught the 2.54 pm train from Gillingham to London, at ₤26 each. Two hours later we reached Waterloo Station, took the underground to Paddington and found a B&B (the Tudor Court Hotel, Norfolk Square) near Hyde Park. We dined at McDonalds, walked in Kensington Gardens and telephoned our last farewells to relatives.

13 June 2000   By air to Singapore

After an early breakfast, the Heathrow Express whisked us from Paddington to the airport (Terminal 4) in 30 minutes, including delay for tunnel workings. We collected the 2 bicycles we'd dropped off at Left Luggage a couple of days previously, on our way to the farm, and prepared them for the plane – pedals and handlebars turned inwards, tyre pressure reduced. Check-in for BA011 went smoothly and we relaxed with McDonalds coffee.

Departed at 11.55 am on the 13-hour flight to Singapore. On the Boeing 747-400 (the latest series of Jumbo Jets) we had a row of 3 seats, from window to aisle, to ourselves. Blankets, pillows, bed-socks and eye-shades were all provided, though it was hard to sleep. There were TV screens in the back of the seat in front (watched the film 'American Beauty'), newspapers and magazines, drinks and plenty of food – a hot lunch, sandwiches for tea and a cooked breakfast in the middle of the night. It was a very smooth flight, Margaret's longest to date.

14 June 2000   Singapore,   Fragrance Hotel Emerald   17 km cycled

Arrived at Changi Airport, Singapore at 8 am local time (7 hours ahead of Britain). We felt as if it was 1 am, we'd had no sleep and it was very hot. We waited for our bags by the carousel, alongside a crowd of men dressed in white - Muslims returning from the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.

While Barry reassembled the bicycles, M changed some money (2.5 Singapore dollars to the pound sterling), fetched large cold drinks from Burger King, and booked a room for 3 nights through the Reservations Desk. The going rate for budget hotels was about S$40 for a double room, with those further from the centre including air-con and en-suite in the price, so we chose one of those on Geylang Road.

Carrying the minimum, by leaving 2 pannier bags in Left Luggage, we wheeled the bikes outside the air-conditioned airport. The extreme humidity made us gasp for air! The freeway to the city said No Cycles but there was no choice and no-one stopped us. Changi Road became Geylang Road and, after a 17 km ride, we found the hotel we'd booked. As there was no secure place inside for our bikes (despite assurances on the phone!), they directed us to the nearby 'Fragrance Hotel Emerald' on Lorong 6. (Lorong means Lane: the side roads at right angles to Geylang Road.) Here we were offered a small room with air-con and en-suite, TV and kettle, on the 8th floor with a great view of the city. We were told that the lower floors were let by the hour for 'passengers in transit'(!) Our bikes were safely stowed behind the desk in Reception and attracted a lot of attention.

After much-needed showers and rest, we walked out in the evening in search of food. Geylang is the Chinese quarter, where we passed stalls of strange prickly fruits, inhaled the myriad smells of outdoor eating and loved the names of the restaurants and their specialities: No Signboard, Fragrant Claypot, Pig Organ Soup, Fish Head Curry, and Two Frog Porridge! With relief, we found plain chicken and chips inside the City Plaza shopping mall. Strolling back, we noticed the wide monsoon ditches and drains and were impressed by the wide mixture of nationalities, religions and cultures living together without any apparent conflict.

15 June 2000   Singapore,   Fragrance Hotel Emerald   22 km cycled

We caught up on missed sleep, then a late breakfast in the room. At noon we set out to cycle into the city through an overcast sticky mug, to which we must acclimatise. The traffic was very orderly, with no litter or broken glass to be seen. Keeping food simple (and cheap), we had both coffee and lunch in different branches of Burger King.

The highlights of the day were the Sultan Mosque; Bugis Village (street market); Raffles Hotel and its arcade of shops (just looking!); St Andrew's Cathedral (a white building, reminiscent of St Andrew's in Madras), where everyone said 'God Bless You' and gave us badges and tea; the restored Boat Quay by the mouth of Singapore River; Nagore Durgha Shrine (a tiny mosque for the Indian Muslim community); Chinatown; and Sri Mariammon Temple (Singapore's oldest Hindu temple 1827), where incense was burning and women prepared offerings of bananas and betel nuts wrapped in leaves.

We rode back through Fort Canning Park, which was lovely and green, shady and exotic – the site of the colonial Government House set among Raffles Gardens, over the burial site of earlier Malay kings. From WW2 bunker to spice gardens, it's a historic place. We made the hotel before dark, which falls suddenly at 7 pm.

16 June 2000   Singapore,   Fragrance Hotel Emerald   54 km cycled

Cycled into the city again and round Little India, along Serangoon Road. Memorable for the smells, the jasmine garland sellers and the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali. Here a priest was pouring gallons of milk over a statue of Lord Gannesh (the elephant god), pausing to wipe its eyes, while a band played. Today is Full Moon, especially auspicious because it's Friday.

After an early lunch (yes, Burger King again), we rode out to the entrance to Sentosa Island, a holiday resort accessible (for a fee) on a causeway or by cable car. We continued to Tiger Balm Gardens (or Haw Par Villa), a Chinese-legend-theme-park, which had developed somewhat from the pleasant gardens Barry remembered visiting over 40 years ago! We didn't pay the S$5 each to enter, content with seeing the 60 m long dragon at the entrance.

We cycled back to the hotel, where the Manager, anxious to please, gave us some bread and Chinese jam (made of coconut and eggs). To simplify tomorrow morning's early start, we then rode the 17 km to Changi airport in the busy teatime traffic to deposit our bicycles at Left Luggage. A taxi returned us in the dark to the Fragrance Hotel, where we showered, packed and wrote a few postcards.

17 June 2000   By air to Perth, Western Australia (WA)   9 km cycled

After a wake-up call at 5.30 am for a taxi at 6 am, we reached Changi airport at 6.15 am! Plenty of time to collect bags and bikes, prepare for check-in, post our cards, have a Burger King breakfast and change Singapore dollars into Australian currency. Departed at 9.15 am for a smooth 5-hour flight on BA011, across the Equator to Perth.

The weather on landing in West Australia was perfect, dry and cloudy, a pleasant 70 deg F (and this is mid-winter!) There was a Freefone at Perth airport for hostels and other accommodation. A few calls established that there was plenty of choice in the city, prices ranging from A$40 at the YMCA to A$80 for a good hotel. Everyone sounded very friendly.

Bikes reassembled, helmets strapped on (compulsory in Oz and NZ), we set off on wide empty roads (most traffic taking to the Freeway). Suddenly tired, we stopped half-way to the city centre at 'All Travellers Motel', the first we passed. For A$70 we had an excellent room with full cooking facilities. (We soon learnt to appreciate motel rooms in Oz and NZ, which always provide toaster, kettle, tea, coffee and milk, and often have a stove or microwave as well.) A good long sleep followed.

18 June 2000   Perth,   City Holiday Apartments   16 km cycled

We cycled towards the city on the Great Eastern Highway, over the causeway across the Swan River and then on the cycle path along its bank to Barrack Square Jetty. Here you can take a river cruise, or the ferry to Fremantle or to Rottnest Island. We had coffee and scones, then rang City Holiday Apartments (at 537 William St, Mt Lawley – by Hyde Park) to book a self-contained apartment at A$50 per night.

Continuing into the centre of Perth, we looked round the shopping malls, enjoying the street theatre (fire-eating jugglers!) The café food is excellent: it was hard to choose between an all-day breakfast and fish & chips! At the tourist information centre we found a good guide to the Nullarbor Plain, which would be our first major cycling challenge. At a camping shop, we mused over which stove to buy (gas, meths or multifuel) and left the decision till later. A couple riding by with a dog in a basket gave us some friendly advice on cycling here, and we got a 'Good on Yer' from most everyone we met!

We found our well-equipped apartment (in a tower block) and settled in before darkness fell, along with heavy rain.

19 June 2000   Perth,   City Holiday Apartments   14 km cycled

After a wet and windy night, it's cooler and showery. We cycled into Perth to continue shopping and gathering information. Sadly, our first encounter with a Native Australian taught us to beware of aggressive Aborigine beggars, hassling outside the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (a monumentally grand Colonial edifice).

We lunched on toasties (with free cappuccino) and returned to the camping shop on Hay St, where we bought lightweight mugs and plates, and a small bottle for cooking oil (to replace ours which has split and leaked!) The RAC shop supplied a map for Perth-Adelaide, Coles supermarket filled our larder. We found a cycle shop for some spray grease and Barry bought their very last peaked helmet cover. The 'to do' list is going down!

Back to the apartment as it went dark (5.30 pm), for an evening of cooking and Australian TV.

20 June 2000   Perth,   City Holiday Apartments   15 km cycled

After a quiet morning, sorting our information and making plans, we rode into the city after lunch, armed with a list of final arrangements.

We donated our cabin luggage flight bag and a guidebook to Singapore to the 'Save the Children' shop. At the camping shop we finally decided on a gas stove (with several spare re-sealable cylinders) and also bought some thermal underwear, insect repellent and sunscreen lotion (ready for anything!) In the store we met a group of young environmentalists, Cycling for Sustainability, who told us they leave tomorrow to cycle across the Nullarbor to Sydney, hoping to promote recycling. We were to meet again! We also got a Vodafone chip for our mobile phone and visited the HQ of 'Main Roads of WA' in east Perth, to collect their map of Kalgoorlie-Eucla.

Returning to the apartment to braise some pork chops, Margaret had a phone message from her mother to say that her namesake, Auntie Margaret, had died at home of a sudden heart attack. Strangely, we had just bought a card for her approaching 80th birthday. Margaret rang her mum, uncle and cousin, suddenly feeling a very long way from England.

21 June 2000   Perth,   City Holiday Apartments   68 km cycled

As our intention is to Oz_2000_(10).jpgride between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, we need to start by cycling to Fremantle (only 10 miles/RTW_2000_005.jpg16 km from Perth, but the circuitous cycle path doubles that!) We followed the 20-mile path along the north bank of the River Swan, rich in bird life - pelicans, sea birds, black swans (the symbol of WA), rainbow bee eaters in the trees (like small red-blue-yellow parrots). Superb fish and chips, at Fremantle fishing harbour by the Indian Ocean, was our reward, before returning on the south side of the river and over Narrows Bridge into Perth centre.

Back at 537 William St (which feels like home after just 4 days!), we did the laundry, phoned to book places for the next 3 nights, wrote up the diary, worked out the accounts, wrote to Margaret's bereaved family, made supper, had showers and packed everything ready for the road tomorrow. Let the games begin!

22 June 2000   Northam,   Northam Motel   100 km cycled

Away by 9.15 am, we rode out of Perth along the wet busy Guildford Road. Taking a coffee break in Guildford-Midland, we were told of 14 hippies (the Australians call them 'ferals') cycling through yesterday! Cycling for Sustainability, for sure. It was a hard climb out of the Swan Valley, through the Darling Range, then rolling wooded country. We saw our first kangaroo-warning road sign after 15 miles, but had only seen sheep and horses. The birds are more exotic, with colourful parakeets.

We lunched at the halfway point, eating our own packed lunch Oz_2000_(11).jpgwith a pot of tea at a lone café/petrol station. Diesel and petrol were both the equivalent of ₤0.33 per litre (cheaper than the tea!) Drenched by heavy rain showers through the afternoon, we arrived at Northam at 4.30 pm, soaked but not cold. We changed, hung our wet stuff around the spacious motel room and went into town to eat at a 'Red Rooster' (like KFC, but better). We got more supplies at Coles and rested with TV for the rest of the evening (many British programmes, including 'ER' tonight).

23 June 2000   Cunderdin,   Cunderdin Caravan Park   62 km cycled

We continued east along the Gt Eastern Highway (road 94), which follows the railway closely from Perth to Southern Cross. This is the Wheat Belt (Northam to Southern Cross), with long freight trains carrying the grain, and silos marking the stations.

We had our first brew-up on the new stove in a lay-by among sheep and wheat. Our next break was at Meckering, which is now just a petrol station/shop with a few new bungalows. The original town was destroyed in an earthquake in 1968, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale. Amazingly, no-one was killed, but the memorial has a length of badly buckled railway line. The ruins of a farmhouse have been left, with a sign showing the site of the cot of a very lucky baby.

We reached Cunderdin CP, run by a Swiss, in time for lunch. We had a room in a 'unit' with our own kettle, fridge and toaster, and a toilet/shower shared with the occupant of the opposite room – Ron Robertson, an engineering foreman working with the railway. Later we walked to the local shops and ate at Peak Truckstop (the excellent 'daily special' was veal schnitzel, typically served with loads of veggies).

Through the evening we talked at fascinating length with Ron, who had a fund of stories. His 2 contract workers, a Kiwi and an Aussie staying in the next unit, had lit a campfire in an oil drum outside. Fuelled by beer and whisky, they gave us a good insight into the behaviour of Australians, both native and immigrant. Ron dreamt of retiring soon, perhaps to Thailand or to NW Australia.

24 June 2000   Kellerberrin,   Shell Roadhouse   51 km cycled

After phoning to book a couple more nights along our route, we set off at 9.15 am. It was cooler but dry, with a light NW wind to help us along.

We stopped to make coffee in Tammin in the War Memorial Park. The monument listed names from WW2 plus 3 lost in Vietnam. We found that most settlements had a memorial park - always a good place for a break with well maintained picnic tables, water and toilets.

Our simple room at the roadhouse on the main road was shared with a mouse, which woke us twice in the night! We talked with the 3 occupants of the Cycling for Sustainability support-van, parked at the roadhouse. They supplied a copy of their itinerary (we're not far behind) and said we were welcome to join them at any point.

We had a good meal at the Kellerberrin Motel (the A$7 special) and spent the rest of the day reading and writing.

25 June 2000   Merredin,   Merredin Motel   67 km cycled

An easy morning's ride with a back wind, pausing to brew up in Doodlakine (just a railway station with a shop). Arriving in Merredin at 12.30 pm, we had lunch at 'Chicken Treat', similar to 'Red Rooster' and excellent value.

After a pot of teaOz_2000_(12).jpg in our motel room, we rode along to the caravan park in search of the Cycling for Sustainability group. The lovely owner, Sue, was expecting them and she introduced us to her rescued orphan animals. She had a gorgeous soft furry 5-month-old bottle-feeding 'joey', wearing a nappy, snuggled in a 'pouch' made out of blankets. There were also 2 adults (a wallaby and a grey kangaroo) that she had hand-reared, as well as tame parrots that sat on our shoulders. Apparently, marsupials are often road accident victims but the young may survive in the pouch.

Back at the motel, we had a call from Sue to say the Cycling for Sustainability group had been offered free accommodation at the Railway Institute Hall, so we walked round to join them (12 female and 6 male). They invited us to sit in their circle for a meeting and talk about ourselves, before helping to prepare the evening meal – plenty of vegetable curry and rice, which we shared. A warm feeling of naïve optimism and good fellowship ruled, as they set up their tents and sleeping bags inside the hall. Tomorrow they are running a workshop in the Merredin primary school, so we shall leave them behind.

We walked back to our motel at 10 pm and fell asleep watching 'GI Jane' on TV.

26 June 2000   Southern Cross,   Southern Cross Caravan Park   115 km cycled

An earlier start (8.15 am) for a longer stretch on a bright dry colder day. The rolling road crossed the last of the wheat fields, with a few sheep and cattle. Still no wallabies or kangaroos, though there are small parrots.

We brewed up in Burracopin Centenary Park (the usual picnic area, children's swings and clean toilets, in the tiniest settlement). At Carrabin we bought coffee and cakes at the petrol station/café/shop. The sign read 'For Hardy People' – we love this sparse country.

Resisting another stop in Moorine Rock, we continued to Southern Cross, the centre of the Shire of Yilgarn (meaning White Stone or Quartz). Southern Cross was named by 2 men who found gold here in 1888, guided by the constellation. Our long day (over 70 miles) had a happy ending, with a good cabin on the caravan park. We bought more supplies, cooked bangers (sausages) and mash, and watched 'Ali McBeale' on TV.

27 June 2000   Camping in the Bush near Boorabbin   131 km cycled

Away at 8.15 am again with an excellent back wind. After 35 km we stopped at Yellowdine Roadhouse for mugs of coffee (the last possible rooms before Coolgardie, which we won't reach today). It was another 35 km to a Rest Area (a large lay-by), where we had lunch.

We aimed to camp at the next Rest Area, another 60 km or so down the road, pausing half way for a brew. After riding through the Boorabbin National Park (which looked identical to all the other bush), we mistook a Parking Area, 1 km before the Rest Area, as our intended campsite – not that it made much difference!

Wheeling the bikes into the bush, to be hidden from the road, we had the tent up and some tea made before night fell at about 5.30 pm. We cooked bacon and eggs by torch light, then watched the incredible stars fill the dark sky. Donning our new Helly Hansen thermals, we were in our sleeping bags by 8.30 pm. It was an amazing experience, camped beneath the gum trees, hoping we weren't on the beaten track of any large nocturnal animals! Snakes and reptiles hibernate in winter, but not kangaroos. We saw a couple by the roadside today, sadly long dead.

We did sleep well (after cycling 82 miles in 6 hrs 40 mins), but it was a strange Dreamtime.

28 June 2000   Coolgardie,   Coolgardie Caravan Park   62 km cycled

After 12 hours' sleep (!) we packed up our camp, feeling good. There were kangaroo prints in the soft red sand but we never heard them.

Riding in a steady drizzle for 30 km along the road, we came to Bullabulling: just a pub in a 100-year-old building run by an elderly Italian woman and her son. They didn't have rooms but made us very good cheese and ham toasties with coffee, as we dried out by their log fire. We learnt there was once a settlement of 2,000 inhabitants in mining camps here during the Gold Rush, when the old railway was extended from Southern Cross to Coolgardie. Bullabulling was a watering point for the railway engines but when the Gold Rush ended the railway was diverted from Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie, and Coolgardie became almost a ghost town. We were entertained until the rain stopped.Oz_2000_(13).jpg

It was another 30 km or so to Coolgardie, where we took a caravan on the simple caravan park, which didn't have any cabins. In the one-street town, we collected some mail at the post office and shopped at Moran's Store (the only shop, in the original Gold Rush store). The street was lined with historical information boards and we read them all. Many had old sepia photographs of the 'swampers' who came from all corners - on foot, bicycle, train, camel, horse, donkey … whatever. Two old hotels still stand and there is a camel farm offering rides!

29 June 2000   Widgiemooltha,   Widgie Cabins   79 km cycled

Our route was soon much quieter, as most traffic took the Koolgardie turning. After passing several dead kangaroos at the roadside, we were excited to see 4 emus – very much alive – running across the road in front of us! They emerged from, and disappeared into, thickly wooded bush land.

Over the 50 miles ridden today there was nothing – absolutely nothing – except the odd lay-by with the usual pair of yellow rubbish bins. No phone boxes, no buildings, nothing. We stopped to brew up after 25 km and again to make lunch after another 25 km, looking forward to Widgiemooltha. This comprised one petrol station on the main road and a side street with a ghost village (the Widgie Tavern was long closed)!

The Cycling for Oz_2000_(14).jpgSustainability group had told us of Widgie Cabins Wilderness Survival Centre and we'd already phoned the owners, Andrea and Jim. They were now away on holiday but had promised to leave a key by the gate. We eventually found the place and opened the communal kitchen, inside which were keys to a series of rough 2-bedded huts. The gas for cooking had run out and the electricity was minimal (from solar panels, in winter) but the cupboards were well stocked with food (the 'Recyclables' are due in 2 days). We made ourselves at home, leaving A$20 in an envelope for Andrea as instructed.

After walking back to the petrol station, to phone the motels across the Nullarbor Plain, we watched the sun set over the wilderness. We cooked supper (on our own camping gas stove), lit a bonfire to sit by with some Sparklers we found, and read the Australian Police 'Bushcraft & Survival' Handbook which hung in the kitchen. Fascinating advice on what to eat and drink to survive if stranded: all reptiles are edible, as are many insects. You should avoid furry caterpillars – and decapitate venomous snakes first!

It was a bitterly cold night but we survived wearing thermals, inside our sleeping bags, under the woollen blankets, in a cabin. Not quite ready for true blue Bushcraft!

30 June 2000   Norseman,   Norseman Caravan Park   100 km cycled

There was frost on the grass outside Widgie Cabins and we needed hot milk on our cereal before setting off under a clear bright sky with a back wind. It was a good ride, past the entrances to modern gold mines. We were still following the Victorian water pipe built by C X O'Connor, taking water from Perth to Kalgoorlie and Norseman. We shall miss it!

We saw another 7 emus by the railway track, but still no live kangaroos (just the odd body at the roadside). Coffee and lunch stops were taken sitting on the red earth under gum trees (eucalyptus), listening to squawking birds.

After passing Lake Cowan on our left, the wind sweeping across its salt surface, we reached Norseman, the western end of the Eyre Highway across the Nullarbor Plain. The town is named after a horse, which hoofed up a gold nugget in 1894, starting a Gold Rush. Gold mining is still the main industry for the population of 1,600. The main street has a few stores but the Supa-Save was closed for stock-taking in preparation for tomorrow's introduction of GST (Goods and Services Tax, like VAT). This will increase many prices by 10%, including accommodation, unfortunately.

We took one of the new en-suite cabins on the CP, used the Speed Queen washing machine in the camp laundry, cooked supper and looked forward to a rest day.

1 July 2000   Norseman,   Norseman Caravan Park   3 km cycled

A cold bright day, on which we shopped for food, gas canisters and candles. We bought post cards and stickers from the Tourist Office and rang 2 more motels, covering our route as far as Eucla.

Barry serviced the bikes, M mended trousers! We also wrote letters and post cards, cooked lamb chops and rested after our first 720 km (450 miles) in 9 days! Ahead of us lie about 850 miles of emptiness, misleadingly known as the Nullarbor (= No Trees) Plain.

2 July 2000   Fraser's Range   108 km cycled

Leaving at 8 am, Oz_2000_(15).jpgthe roads were still wet from a terrific thunderstorm in the night, the wind from the north. The quiet rolling Eyre Highway climbed gently, passing Mt Jimberlana as we left Norseman. For 105 km (66 miles) we passed nothing except one emergency phone! For coffee, lunch and tea breaks we sat on logs under the gum trees, spotting emu prints like arrows in the soft red earth, a long stride apart.

Fraser's Range is a sheep station, a mile off the highway down a track on the right, run by John and Heather Campbell and son Alex. The shearers' quarters, open as a simple hostel, are a row of 2-bedded stone-built rooms. There is a splendid communal living room/kitchen with a gas cooker, a fireplace, plenty of candles (and electric lights from 6-9 pm run by a generator). The water supply is rainwater, collected in tanks off the roof, and a wood-fired boiler provides hot showers in the rough and ready ablutions. There is space for tents and caravans but we were the only guests.

Heather's jeep overtook us as we rode in and she lit us a blazing fire in the kitchen. We had heard of Fraser's Range from the Cycling for Sustainability group, who were due in a couple of days, delayed by injuries and an extra day in Coolgardie. Heather showed us her Visitors' Book, with several cyclists, especially Japanese, coming through. She was nervous about the imminent arrival of the 'radical feral hippies' so RTW_2000_008.jpgwe reassured her about their good intentions. The shearers had recently been in, to deal with 13,000 lambs spread over 350,000 acres, an awesome task. Alex covers the ground on a motorbike, while John flies a microlight.

We made supper by the fire and retired at 9 pm, when it was literally 'lights out'.

(On a return visit in 2005 we found that Fraser's Range had become a commercial campground, with new facilities and high prices. We were deeply saddened to learn that Heather and her son had sold up after John was killed in a flying accident.)

3 July 2000   Balladonia Roadhouse   91 km cycled

After breakfast by candlelight, we were off at 8 am. It was easy riding with a back wind and much less uphill once through the Fraser Range. We had breaks to make coffee and bacon sandwiches by the roadside, still spotting no wildlife.

We did have one conversation, with a lone runner jogging towards us! Mike, RTW_2000_006.jpga teacher of English, was a Christian, running round Australia and Tasmania to promote World Peace. Starting from Cairns last September, he was on his way to work at an Aborigine Mission in the north. He ran about 20 miles each day, then hitched a lift back to where he'd left his car and tent and moved them along! We rode on with his blessing.

Balladonia was our first Nullarbor Roadhouse, offering fuel, café food, a phone box, lovely rooms and a simple campsite (as they all did). After 7 nights in our sleeping bags, it was bliss to take a motel room with crisp sheets, en-suite and TV! There are no cooking facilities in the motels across the Nullarbor – just a kettle. We had steak pie and veggies in the café, then browsed round the free interactive museum. There were good displays about local natural history, as well as the Balladonia Station and Telegraph Office, with early photos of the Eyre Highway (which was only sealed in the 1980's). It also told the story of the American Skylab Spaceship, which crashed near here in 1979.

4 July 2000   Camping in the Bush at Baxter's Rest Area   116 km cycled

Left at 7.45 am for another long day, climbing very gently with a back wind, past the old Balladonia Telegraph Station (long abandoned).

We photographed a road sign warning of kangaroos, emus and camels - during the day we were to see corpses of all 3 species, but none alive! A family of 3 dead camels (parents and a young one) lay together at the roadside, a sad sight. Traffic is very light but the monster 'road train' trucks stop for nothing. Another photo stop was the famous '90 mile straight' sign at the start of the world's longest straight road (ending tomorrow at Caiguna). One stretch of road was labelled as a runway for the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service)!

We took 3 breOz_2000_(16).jpgaks at 30 km intervals, then stopped to camp in the bush behind a rest area as the next roadhouse (Caiguna) was too far. The trees were starting to thin out and there were amazing colours in the sky and clouds as dusk fell. Later, a trailer tent arrived and we were invited for coffee. The family (with 2 young boys) had left their wheat/sheep farm at Esperance with a manager for 3 months while they took a trip to Cairns, and this was their first day. We talked until rain drove us inside, snug in our tent through a wet and windy night.

5 July 2000   Caiguna Roadhouse   68 km cycled

A dry morning with a very helpRTW_2000_010.jpgful wind from the west. We rode the second half of the 90-mile straight, which ends with a bend by the John Eyre Motel at Caiguna, the next Roadhouse, which we reached before lunch! The back wind gave us a record average speed for the day of 26 km/hr (over 16 mph)!

We stopped only once along the way, to brew up and spread the tent out to dry at a rest area. Its shelter had a huge V-shaped tin roof which funnelled rainwater into a tank, though a sign advised boiling it before drinking and the tank was rusty and vandalised.

Taking a good motel room, we put our clocks forward 45 minutes, watched the single TV channel, had a chicken dinner by the log fire and slept well. The contrast between the hardship of the road and the comfort of the roadhouse is like finding an oasis in the desert. We left some cycling magazines and a note for the Cycling for Sustainability group, who were due to camp here soon.

6 July 2000   Cocklebiddy Roadhouse   67 km cycled

There was still a good baOz_2000_(20).jpgck wind, giving an average speed today of 22 km/hr. The trees are now sparse and small but the verges had a fresh growth of grass after the recent rain, attracting the animals. After photographing a pair of black crows breakfasting on another dead kangaroo, we actually saw 2 live roos bounding across the grassland. We were transfixed, it's a wonderful sight. Later we saw 2 emus strutting their stuff – an eventful morning!

By lunchtime we were settled into the Wedgetail Inn at Cocklebiddy, the next Roadhouse, for a restful afternoon. The one TV channel showed 'Heartbeat' and films; the café served beef curry.

7 July 2000   Madura Pass Roadhouse   93 km cycled

Another easy ride with a wind from the west. We had 2 breaks and rain staRTW_2000_009.jpgrted just as we packed up from lunch, falling for the last 20 miles. No Worries (as they say)!

The highway climbed gradually, almost imperceptibly, to the top of the Madura Pass, suddenly giving a great view down over the scrubby treeless plain. Then a 2-mile freewheel down to the Oasis Motel at the next Roadhouse.

Despite being a 'Best Western', this was a simpler (and cheaper) motel. The TV was showing tennis at Wimbledon (yawn!). We had a good meal, though there was no pudding! (The roadhouses do not sell food for self-catering, nor will they give out drinking water, a very precious resource.)

8 July 2000   Mundrabilla Roadhouse   118 km cycled

Thanks to the continuing Oz_2000_(19).jpgback wind, today's average speed was 26 km/hr, covering over 70 miles to the next roadhouse by 1.30 pm!

After seeing our first wedgetail eagle, dead at the roadside, we encountered a live one, flapping over a freshly killed kangaroo, along with the usual big black crows, whose mournful cry is quite haunting. Another wedgetail was soaring above, watching us – magnificent birds.

Our first stop, at Oz_2000_(21).jpga rest area after 50 km, was by a pair of vandalised graffiti-covered water tanks under a V-shaped roof. The picnic tables made a good place for a brew, provided you bring your own water. We paused again to eat the chicken salad sandwiches, bought at Madura Pass Roadhouse, and then we kept just ahead of the rain, reaching the next roadhouse before heavy showers fell. Mundrabilla Station Homestead, on our left a few miles before the roadhouse/motel, looked as remote as they come, with its own RFDS airstrip on the road (the second seen today).

At the motel, we did some forward planning and made a couple of phone calls (to the High Commission in Canberra to confirm that we are allowed 6 months visa-free in NZ and to Qantas to reschedule our flights). We also booked accommodation as far as Ceduna, at the eastern end of the Eyre Highway, where the isolated roadhouses give way to a multiple choice of cabins and rooms.

We had a good meal (shepherd's pie with veggies and rhubarb crumble with custard) and a good room. Unusually, there were a few items of food on sale, like small packets of cereal and tins of baked beans, though priced at a premium.

9 July 2000   Eucla Village   67 km cycled

A late start, delayed by fixing our first puncture (M's front wheel). We took one break, making coffee and heating up beans in a rain shower.

Approaching Eucla 'village', a tiny community around the next roadhouse, huge white sand dunes appeared on the horizon before a climb up Eucla Pass for the last couple of km. We had a lovely room in the Eucla Motor Inn, with a sea view below our window. It proved a good choice for a day off tomorrow.

The restaurant caters for the golf club types (yes, there's a small golf course!), but there is also a snack bar where we had a good supper. There is even a shop with a few groceries, where we bought a whole jar of honey (rather than the individual sachets sold at breakfast!), butter, biscuits, jam, sardines and a tin of stew. And the TV has 3 channels instead of the usual one.

10 July 2000   Eucla Village   14 km cycled

An interesting morning, starting in the little Eucla Museum (about the Eucla Telegraph Station whose relics are almost submerged in sand drifts near the shore).

We also rode past the police station to visit the nearby Meteorological Office, run by 2 men working 12-hour shifts, with an array of computers linked to Melbourne. The man on duty took time to explain his work and answer our many questions: a fascinating insight. They have to take hourly readings and send up 3 hydrogen balloons each day. We learnt that westerlies only prevail in winter, so we are riding at the right time of year, as hoped (though today the dry wind is from the north).

After lunch we RTW_2000_012.jpgcycled past the Eucla Travellers Cross and the simple John Eyre Memorial by the caravan park, and turned down a dirt track for 3 miles to the fine white dunes, where the walls of the old Telegraph Station peep through. The man at the Met Office told us that much less of the buildings was visible when he first came, 5 years ago. He also said there were plenty of emus and kangaroos down on the shore, but they must have heard us coming – not even a footprint! We climbed the highest dune and looked out at the derelict wooden jetty, imagining the landings here when there was no road access.

It was a short steep climb back to the highway, riding into the wind for once, then back to read and watch TV for the rest of the day. Some trucks and cars from the Olympic Flame retinue arrived to park overnight, taking the flame and its attendant circus round the country to Sydney for the 2000 Olympiad in September.

11 July 2000   Camping in the Bush at Bunda Cliffs, Nullarbor National Park,   South Australia (SA)   150 km cycled

Our longest day so far on this tour – 94 miles with a side-wind from the north!

It began with aOz_2000_(18).jpg 13-km climb to Border Village, at the WA/SA border. We put our watches on another 45 minutes and passed the Agricultural Quarantine Checkpoint for west-bound traffic (for fruit-fly prevention). East-bound, we shall be checked before entering Ceduna, so we have to eat our fruit, veg and honey by then. The Border Village roadhouse was still being rebuilt after a fire 6 months ago and the 'Big Kangaroo' (a garish fibreglass giant holding a can of Fosters) looked a bit singed!

We entered South Australia and the start of the Nullarbor National Park, the true treeless plain. The road ran close to the Bunda Cliffs with superb sea views from the regular car parks and viewpoints on our right. The wind gradually turned behind us and we sped along, pausing to brew up 3 times until we'd ridden100 km – the halfway point to the next roadhouse. It was time to find a camping spot. However, we found no cover for another 50 km, until low bushes reappeared. The rest areas, perched on the cliff edges with no shelter from the strong wind, did not seem a good place for a small tent!

We finally took cover at the back of a rest area on the left, putting the tentOz_2000_(17).jpg behind the emergency phone pylon. We might have pushed on to the Nullarbor Roadhouse (another 52 km) but darkness fell, we were tired and thirsty and it began to rain. We had a good night's rest, looking forward to a shorter ride tomorrow.

There is still very little wild life (one dead kangaroo today) but we did see a pair of birds we took for young emu – until they flew off! (Later learnt that they were burrow-birds.)

12 July 2000   Nullarbor Roadhouse   52 km cycled

We struck camp and cycled on through brief showers to the next roadhouse. We just had one stop to make coffee and watch the rainbows dancing over the sea.

After settling into a good motel room and making lunch, we asked about the advertRTW_2000_011.jpgised 'Whale Air' service – half-hour whale-watching flights over the Australian Bight in a 6-seater Cessna 210 single-engine plane. An hour later we were airborne, Barry sitting next to the pilot, Nigel, with the instruction 'Don't touch anything'! M crouched behind, knees like jelly, deafened by the noise. What an experience!

Nigel flew us overRTW_2000_013.jpg the abandoned sheep station to the sand dunes and the Head of Bight, circled as low as he dared over the Southern Ocean, then returned over the Bunda Cliffs to make an amazing landing along the short track/runway next to the motel, almost skimming the telegraph wires. Barry took photos and M prayed. The view of the Southern Right Whales, which come from the Antarctic to breed here every winter, was a bonus. We didn't spot any calves yet but one whale was surrounded by dolphins, which kept jumping out of the water until the whale dived. The memory of those 30-minutes will last forever.

We recovered over a pot of tea, fish & chips and a film on TV – the trivial comforts of modern life!

13 July 2000   Yalata Roadhouse   93 km cycled

A wind from the north and rolling hills made it a harder slower ride, through the Yalata Aborigine Reserve to the next roadhouse.

We passed the turn-off for the Head of Bight, a 12-km track to a viewing platform over the ocean. During the season, visitors pay A$7.70 for a whale-watching permit at the White Well Ranger Station 2 km along. Nigel's plane flew over as we read the sign. One fox or dingo ran across the highway, otherwise we saw no animals today, not even road-kill.

By the time we had the last of our 3 breaks, the trees had returned – the Nullarbor Plain was behind us. Our reward was some shelter for the stove, as we brewed up and watched the brightly coloured grey, pink/blue and green parrots.

We reached Yalata at 5 pm, a very different kind of roadhouse. It serves as a shop, filling station and food takeaway for the nearby Aborigine settlement (of about 20 houses, with a school, a nurse and a police station). 'Whites' need a permit to visit the settlement, though the school, etc, are all run by Whites, as is the Yalata Roadhouse – namely 2 young couples who had been sent in to restore the place, just 4 weeks ago.

We were told that the cabins had all been trashed but we could camp in the stony paddock, so we duly put up our tent and returned for a meal in the empty restaurant. The pair on duty, from Tasmania, displayed saintly patience with the rude noisy uncouth customers we saw and heard shouting. Apparently, the Roadhouse had been given to the Aborigine community to run and to sell their crafts, but they had all helped themselves to the food and fuel until of course it ran out. They resented the new White management, who demanded payment for the goods. The shop had a small range of cheap basic groceries, along with bacon, eggs, sausages - and 'Roo Tails' at A$6 each, complete with fur, hanging up in shrink-wrapped plastic. They are used for native kangaroo tail soup, while the steaks fetch a much higher price in the tourist restaurants of the capital cities. We could also have bought a boomerang or a didgeridoo.

The managers warmed to us enough to offer the free use of an empty cabin with a bed (if nothing else). We took the tent down in the dark and moved in, for a little more comfort.

14 July 2000   Nundroo Roadhouse   53 km cycled

The second pair of Yalata managers, Troy & Sue with a 10-month-old daughter, cooked us a breakfast of ham & eggs and we wished them luck – they will need it!

The road was now hilly and well wooded, with good shelter for a coffee stop. Soon after Yalata we crossed the famous Dingo Fence/road grid, running for 6,000 km from Queensland to the Bight - the world's longest fence, laid to keep wild dogs out of the vast sheep stations of south-east Australia.

After 48 km we met our first fellow-cyclist on the Nullarbor, coming the other way into a strong head wind on a heavily laden bike. Ronny, from Leipzig, was nearing the end of a 2-year ride, including Portugal, Bangkok and New Zealand. In Australia he had ridden down from Darwin, through Alice Springs to Sydney and now across to Perth, but regretting his decision to ride the Nullarbor east-west!

The scenery changed, woodland giving way to grass and sheep. RTW_2000_014.jpgWe passed the gates of a couple of sheep stations, bearing British names like Watkins on the farmers' mail boxes. Signs of civilisation in the outback were slowly returning, like the iconic windmills pumping bore water.

The next roadhouse at Nundroo had a hotel/motel (hotels have a liquor licence) with the usual comforts. There were signs of trouble with Aborigines driving over from Yalata to get alcohol (the native reserves being 'dry'). Notices demanding 'Clean appearance; No torn clothes; Shoes must be worn' etc were on the doors of both the bar and the bottle shop (off-licence).

15 July 2000   Penong,   Penong Hotel   81 km cycled

We had a backOz_2000_(22).jpg wind again, through the rolling hills of the scattered wheat and sheep farms. There were plenty of the noisy pink/grey parrots called galahs, which eat grain, and we saw our first wombats. Sadly, both were dead – one freshly killed in the middle of the highway, the other at the edge feeding the crows.

After 2 breaks on the way, we reached the tiny settlement of Penong at about 2 pm. approaching the village, we called at the Woolshed Museum, housed inside the Station Woolshed built in 1860. It was the first stone building in the area (long before the village developed), constructed from local stone - and timber shipped from England and carried on camels from the quay at Point Bell! It had jointly served as the woolshed, school house, meeting room and dance hall for the area until 1969. A local farmer's wife, who was looking after the small exhibition and craft shop, told us of her forbears landing at Point Bell in 1890, complete with geese and animals. She still had her grandmother's diary, with an account of the annual dance at the woolshed.

Just another mile to Penong, where a football match was in progress at the sports oval! There was also a primary school, one shop/post office (which had closed at 1 pm), a few houses and the Penong Hotel, opposite a truck stop with fuel and café. We got a simple room at the hotel (bathroom down the corridor) and dined at the truck stop, where huge plates of chicken curry came with rice, mashed potatoes and veggies! We felt we'd earned it.

16 July 2000   Ceduna,   A1 Cabins and Caravan Park   74 km cycled

A harder ride through the hills, with a strong side wind. We passed several isolated homesteads and signs marking the sites of long-gone schools.

During the day we passed the milestones of 2,000 km since leaving Perth and 1,250 km since Norseman – the last town before Ceduna! We had taken exactly 2 weeks (plus one rest day at Eucla) to cross the Nullarbor, the 'Treeless Plain', though now we saw fewer trees, since they'd been cleared for farming!

We passed through the east-bound Fruit Fly Inspection, with no fruit or veg to declare (we had needlessly eaten all our honey), and entered Ceduna – a real town, complete with health centre, shops, cafes, a choice of accommodation and a sea shore with a long jetty, where a lone pelican sat. It felt good, though we were sad to leave the haunting emptiness of the Nullarbor.

We got a comfortable en-suite cabin at the A1 Park and stayed awake (watching 'The Bill' on TV) to see an amazing full eclipse of the moon at 11 pm. What good timing!

17/18 July 2000   Ceduna,   A1 Cabins and Caravan Park   24 km cycled

A good break in Ceduna for forward-planning, doing our laundry and shopping. We bought food, stamps, post cards, phone cards, batteries and a fresh supply of paperbacks from the second-hand book shop - the first chance in over 700 miles!

Barry serviced the bikes, touching up the scratches with gunmetal paint, while M wrote post cards, phoned to book rooms along the next stretch and cooked chicken breasts. We also had a short ride (8 km) out to Thevenard and back, the jetty and gypsum works at the end of a narrow finger of land in Denial Bay (a bay famous for oysters).

We saw the Cycling for Sustainability group's support van, parked outside the Ceduna shops to take on supplies, and learnt they are now well behind schedule, and so behind us.

19 July 2000   Wirrulla,   Wirrulla Hotel   94 km cycled

For nearly 60 miles we cycled an empty road, past a few sheep stations and a short stretch of the single track railway that links Ceduna with Wirrulla. Some road workers were widening the verges, which seemed a good idea! The wind alternated between south and west.

Wirrulla ('The Town with a Secret') comprised tall grain silos by the railway, a few houses, one store and our simple hotel. We never did learn the secret! We are deep in sheep and wheat country, with water piped from Port Lincoln.

The hotel had been taken over by Margaret Hancock, with her husband, 2 lads and their grandparents – a nice family, who had moved here from Adelaide just 2 weeks ago. The bar was full of hard-drinking darts-playing locals, while we were served a splendid roast chicken dinner in the dining room. In Australia, we were told, a 'hotel' is really a pub but it must also offer rooms to travellers, in order to get a licence. These rooms are rarely used, but we always found them comfortable (and generally cheaper than motel rooms, which have more facilities).

20 July 2000   Wudinna,   Gawler Ranges Motel   124 km cycled

Fortified by bacon & eggs at the Wirrulla Hotel, we were back on the long rolling road, with a brilliant back wind.

In Poochera, 48 km along, we sat outside the Bowling Club for a brew and talked to the old-timer who cared for the green. Bowls is extremely popular in Australia, with team uniforms for both men and women. After another 32 km, in Minnipa, we stopped at the small roadhouse, serving burgers and hot dogs. These little wheat-belt towns all have a grain silo by the railway, a few houses, a pub and a store.

Along the way we passed by the car of a couple of 'Stone Artists', who were carving shapes in the stone walls (stoned artists?) They told of meeting some of the Cycling for Sustainability group, back at the Nullarbor Roadhouse, but couldn't remember when!

Wudinna is the biggest town in the area, with a good motel on the Eyre Highway. We were safely inside before heavy rain fell after dark.

21 July 2000   Kimba,   Shell Roadhouse   102 km cycled

A harder day, due to the hills as we crossed the edge of the granite Gawler Range – rolling wheat, sheep and cattle country. The wind was lighter, but still behind us. We saw 2 emus happily strutting among a flock of sheep!

We stopped after 12 km at the store in Kyancutta, after which the road was empty until Kimba. We made lunch by the memorial to the explorer John Darke, who was speared by Aborigines in 1844 below the Waddikee Rocks where he camped. We climbed the nearby rocks for a view of the hills, including Darke Peak to the south-east.

Reaching the town of Kimba late in the afternoon, we went straight into the Shell Roadhouse/Motel/Caravan Park, for a budget room and today's special in the café. There was only one TV channel with very poor reception, so we fell asleep reading.

22 July 2000   Iron Knob,   Iron Knob Motel   92 km cycled

Kimba had a good RTW_2000_015.jpgsupermarket (Foodland), to restock our panniers. Then we had to take a photo opportunity by the sign declaring 'Kimba, Half Way across Australia', in the shadow of the 'Big Galas' (another fibre glass giant). Another traveller, a woman driving from Sydney round the coast to Darwin, camping in her 4WD, told us she liked fishing and had left her husband back home to pay for her trip! She also told us that the half-sized flying emus we'd seen would be burrow-birds, and quite rare. We must get a guide to Australian birds, there is a huge variety.

It was another long empty rolling road, leaving the wheat fields behind. We rode through scrub and bush, with kangaroo warning signs (and droppings where we stopped to make lunch). The strong side wind was very tiring and we were glad when the massive iron workings above Iron Knob came into view.

The mine had closed in 1998, at this 'The Birthplace of Australia's Iron Industry', and the small town seemed pretty poor. The motel by the fuel station was very basic, but very welcome indeed.

23 July 2000   Port Augusta,   Big 4 Caravan Park   69 km cycled

The wind from the north remained very strong, making it hard going but warm. Riding through scrub, sparsely grazed by sheep, with no trees for shelter, there was no respite for 30 km until Nutbush Retreat – a sheep station/outback holiday centre. Finding no-one around, we took cover in a communal kitchen to make coffee.

13 km later our road joined a busier route from Whyalla and turned north, directly into the wind, for the last 26 km to Port August. It was a relief to see the Caravan Park, before the bridge into the town, and we took a good en-suite cabin with TV.

We joined the Big 4 Club (A$25 for 2 years' membership), qualifying for a 10% discount at all their Parks – and at those of the similar Top Ten chain in New Zealand where we're heading. It proved a good saving.

24 July 2000   Port Augusta,   Big 4 Caravan Park   10 km cycled

A rest day in Port Augusta, the 'Crossroads of Australia', and once an important port on the Spencer Gulf for exporting wheat. We enjoyed exploring the town (the largest since Perth), with an excellent Visitor Centre, library, health centre, RFDS (Flying Doctor) base, School of the Air centre, and a good range of shops. The cycle store doubled as a gun shop but we just bought some puncture repair patches.

We did our laundry and shopping, celebrating progress so far with a 'Sarah Lee' sticky toffee pudding. The capacity to eat without getting overweight is one of the many bonuses of cycling.

25 July 2000   Wilmington,   Beautiful Valley Caravan Park   47 km cycled

We rode over the long bridge,Oz_2000_(23).jpg past Port Augusta and its huge brown-coal power station, until we finally turned left off Highway 1, which we've followed since Perth. The highway continues to Adelaide, while we headed over the Horrocks Pass into the Flinders Range: our first real climb in Australia, to about 1,200 ft (365 m – Oz is now metric). Resting at the top, by the monument to the explorer John Horrocks, the scenery of grassy hillsides, sheep and tall trees reminded us of Wales – except for the parrots!

A pleasant downhill to the tiny farming town of Wilmington, originally (and appropriately) called Beautiful Valley. On the far side we found the CP and an en-suite cabin, in time for lunch and just before a cold wind blew up, bringing rain. The site was run by a friendly old couple, who kept a range of pets and sold home-knitted baby clothes.

26 July 2000   Peterborough,   Peterborough Caravan Park   90 km cycled

Our hardest day so far, with an increasingly strong and cold wind from the south and showers of rain. It took 6 hours of riding to cover 56 miles, a poor average of under 10 mph.

We paused at the historic graveyard of Willowie and made coffee in the lee of its church down the road. It is now deserted, the village gone, but a new water butt still collects rain from its roof, a common sight throughout the Outback. The next chance for a break, after 50 km, was the modern roadhouse at Orroroo, where we bought lunch.

The final 40 km to the 'Steamtown' of Peterborough was much tougher, directly into the wind, and we were chilled right through by the time we reach the CP, near the hospital. After several hot drinks, sitting between 2 electric heaters in our cabin, we gradually recovered. The adjacent Victoria Park had a few deer and 3 kangaroos.

27 July 2000   Yunta,   Yunta Hotel   89 km cycled

Leaving Peterborough, past the railway station and steam train memorabilia, we turned north-east with a better back wind. After 10 miles we joined the Barrier Highway (Adelaide-Sydney) but there was little traffic.

Over a welcome coffee by a blazing fire at Oodla Wirra roadhouse, the manager told us of his days driving a milk truck from Queensland to Perth – the world's longest milk run! Sounds like a tale from 'Macca' (the Sunday morning radio show 'Australia All Over', which we've grown to love for its music and wry humour).

Riding on through rolling hills and a light rain shower, we passed nothing except 2 roadside memorial shrines. The first was simply to 'Dad, aged 32'. Further along, a recently killed 14-year-old girl had lots of flowers and notes left by her school friends, a sad tribOz_2000_(24).jpgute.

After a picnic lunch in the open, we finally reached Yunta – just a few dwellings and 3 roadhouses. The only accommodation was the Yunta Hotel – the familiar type of pub/restaurant with a gloomy corridor of simple rooms. However, our host added a TV and a kettle to our room and provided a good supper. He'd never had anyone who'd cycled the Nullarbor before!

28 July 2000   Olary,   Olary Hotel   83 km cycled

The wind had dropped and it was dry, though much colder. After 45 km of empty treeless road, parallel with the railway, spotting just one live kangaroo, we reached the Mannahill Hotel, opposite a lovely Victorian railway station. We lunched by a fire in the bar, looking at the interesting photos of the area's former goldmines and current sheep-shearing. The landlord was very morose, wanting to sell but finding no buyers.

It was another 38 km to Olary, with a break to brew up under the shelter of a railway bridge (just as a long freight train rumbled overhead). The Olary Hotel was much friendlier, run by young Adam Pay, whose parents had the shop/petrol station next door (in fact, that pretty much was Olary – population 11).

Resting byOz_2000_(25).jpg the fire in the bar, waiting for dinner, we learnt that the family (from Adelaide) had taken the place over just a few months ago. Adam was a surprising host, claiming to be descended from Francis Drake. He also rides in mountain bike races and writes stories and bush poetry. We were honoured when he read us one of his own poems, along with a couple from a book written by his mentor, a Bush Poet called 'Snake'.

We had an excellent meal (cooked by Adam, while his father ran the bar) and talked with the only other overnight guest, Big John (6 ft 2 ins tall), a retired oil well worker from Perth, driving round the country in his 'ute' (utility vehicle or jeep). He had recently given up work (and drink) after a 3 month spell in hospital, and had a fund of stories about working in Madagascar, USA and the Arab oil countries.

The rooms out back were very rustic but the warmth, food and conversation at the Olary Hotel were world-class.

29 July 2000   Broken Hill,   Top Tourist Caravan Park, New South Wales (NSW)   116 km cycled

Adam Pay cooked breakfast for us and John, free of charge – a lovely gesture. Then we had a calm warm day's ride for a change.

After 35 miles (56 km) we reached the SA/NSW border at Cockburn (pronounced Coburn). We made lunch, bought drinks at the Truckstop and entered our third Australian State. We might have stayed at the Cockburn Hotel, but it was not yet 2 pm and Adam Pay had told strange stories about the Lebanese landlord and a pink-painted interior, decorated with ladies' lingerie! We decided to push on through the hills to Broken Hill.

The Caravan Park is a member of Big 4's rival group, Top Tourist (with a similar 10% members' discount and twinned with Kiwi campsites in NZ). So we are now members of both! On arrival, we found all the cabins taken (it's Saturday and there's a Dog Show in town!). We were offered an on-site (non-suite) caravan, which was comfortable enough. It even had a black & white TV, showing British favourites like 'Parkinson', 'Love Hurts' and 'The Bill'.

30/31 July 2000   Broken Hill,   Top Tourist Caravan Park   19 km cycled

A good cabin became available, so we stayed for a break in the busy mining town known as 'Silver City'. Broken Hill has pleasant wide streets and some historic miners' houses made of corrugated iron, known as 'tinnies'. We had lunch at Hungry Jack's (which is Burger King in disguise) and there is also a McDonalds.

As usual, a day off meant laundry and shopping, phone calls and post card writing. We arranged for UK mail to be sent to friends, Ken & Julie Denton, in Brisbane; gathered information from the Tourist Centre; and found the post office, a book shop, a bike shop and a Woolworth's supermarket.

Barry changed the bicycle tyres round, as the rear ones get more worn, and also greased the chains, checked the brake blocks and retaped the handle bars. We were ready to get back on the road.

1 August 2000   Hazel Vale,   Emu Farm   87 km cycled

With no wind, it was sunny and warm enough to ride in shorts. We cycled an easy (if empty) 83 km before reaching the Little Topar roadhouse, where we stopped for drinks. A pair of kangaroos bounded along in the distance, the larger male ahead of his mate, and we'd seen 2 separate lone emus.

We had phoned the roadhouse about accommodation, been told their (very basic) rooms were full, and so had booked B&B at the emu farm, the only alternative, 4 km further on. It turned out that Little Topar had space for us (the road workers hadn't turned up!) but we knew that Mick Baldwin at Hazel Vale was expecting us for dinner, so we rode on, turning left up a sandy lane for the final km.

Mick (whose wifeOz_2000_(28).jpg Julie, a nurse at Broken Hill, was away on duty) welcomed us warmly to the emu farm, which he is starting to develop into an outback tourist attraction with accommodation and camping. He gave us the guided tour, fed his goats and a mob of 40 7-year-old emus and showed us his water dam and the bush oven, where our chicken dinner was roasting under the coals. (We'd been given a choice of 'chook' or beef, the only things he knew how to make, he said!)

At sundown he took us on a hair-raising 5-mile drive in his beaten-up 'ute' to a lake, very full after January's record rainfall. We saw 2 more kangaroos, come to drink, and he pointed out the Sturt's Peas (red & black flowers found in the outback and named after the explorer). There are ancient Aborigine campfire stones near the water. Back at the house, we noticed cups Mick had won for car rallying (which explained his driving style) but we were surprised at the state of the vehicle, given that he also works with his son, a car mechanic in Broken Hill!

The 3 of us sat round the camp fire/bush oven, savouring the aroma of 'chook' and veggies, as a myriad stars came out, with no competing light pollution. Mick served the meal in the kitchen and we ate together. As we waited for a forgotten frozen cheesecake to thaw on the wood-burning stove, he entertained us with his life story. Another of his undertakings is to cut and sell fallen logs for firewood and he told of his fright when taking the test for a chainsaw licence – he had to fell a taller tree than he'd even seen! He has tried just about everything in an enterprising life, including silver mining.

After this eventful evening (and fixing a puncture in Barry's back tyre, on the dim verandah), we slept very well in the dark, quiet, comfortable guest room.

2 August 2000   Wilcannia,   Wilcannia Motel   117 km cycled

We joined Mick in his kitchen for a cooked breakfast at 7.30 am, hoping for an early start with over 70 miles to ride. However, our host loved to talk and it was 8.45 am before we got away.

The light east wind grew stronger and slowed us down all day, turning slight hills into hard climbs. We needed 3 breaks during a 7-hour ride, reaching Wilcannia just before dark. We saw several wild emus drinking at water holes and, sadly, plenty of road-kill kangaroo corpses. For the first time, we were bothered by clouds of midges, swarming as dusk fell, blowing into our face.

Wilcannia, once a major port on the Darling River, is now a sad Aborigine town which the white population is leaving. We had been warned against putting our tent up on the campground (with no cabins or other accommodation), so we went to the only motel – good but expensive, at A$75. Even this was up for sale and had no food. We ate at the nearby truckstop, full of noisy dirty Aborigine children, and it was a relief to regain the sanctuary of the motel.

3 August 2000   Emmdale,   Camping at Emmdale Roadhouse   103 km cycled

The light wind was still against us but gradually taller trees gave shelter as we rode through the MuCulloch Range.

We saw a male emu proudly leading a trio of striped young through the bush (we'd learnt that father cares for the offspring after hatching), and later another dad with a line of 7 chicks! We also passed the usual toll of dead kangaroos, one with the body of its baby nearby.

Cooking bacon for lunch in a rest area, we attracted a big flock of pretty birds. A couple in a caravan stopped for a chat, telling of their recent tour of Europe when they visited her ancestral home of Pickering. They were delighted to find we knew it well!

We reached the lonely Emmdale RTW_2000_016.jpgRoadhouse at about 4 pm. It had no accommodation but we pitched the tent in the nearby paddock and had a good meal in their café, watching 'Mr Bean' on TV! Our host told of a plague of feral cats and insisted on proudly showing one he'd just shot out at the back. It looked like a fine black pussy to us and it seemed its only crime was making his own cat pregnant! Bang – that'll teach it to be more careful.

4 August 2000   Camping in the Bush near Barnato Homestead   77 km cycled

Next morning we found 3 of our 4 tyres were flat, blamed on the very sharp saltbush thorns called '3-cornered jacks'. In future we must carry, rather than wheel, the bikes off-road. Fortified by poached eggs on toast at the roadhouse, Barry fixed the punctures, with encouragement from plenty of onlookers as they stopped to refuel.

With this delay, plus a head wind from the east again, we didn't make it to the next rest area (100 km) to camp. We're still riding the quiet Barrier Highway, which seems even more deserted than the Nullarbor. We put the tent up in empty bush land after passing the entrance to a homestead, about half way to Cobar. It was a wonderful starry night.

5 August 2000   Cobar,   Cobar Caravan Park   86 km cycled

Another hard day, with a very strong head wind through hilly country and heavy rain showers after lunch.

We rescued a large lizard from certain death by pushing it off the road into the bush, using a bicycle pump, while it hissed and snapped alarmingly! Also saw a pair of kangaroos bounding along the grass verge and lots of colourful birds and parakeets.

It was good to reach the town of Cobar after 266 km (166 miles) from Wilcannia and 2 nights in the tent. We shopped for food and settled into an en-suite cabin with TV on the CP.

6/7 August 2000   Cobar,   Cobar Caravan Park   4 km cycled

Cobar, according to its interesting Visitor Centre, is a copper-mining town with a population of less than 6,000 (mainly young men).

We took a rest and caught up on the usual tasks of laundry, shopping and banking. The bike shop sold heavy-duty 'thorn resistant' inner tubes, which Barry fitted in our rear tyres. A Tasmanian couple with a caravan let us recharge our mobile phone in their car (not that it works very often – Vodafone has poor coverage in the outback).

8 August 2000 Hermidale,   Camping at the Royal Tavern   89 km cycled

With a better wind, we made faster progress though it was showery in the afternoon. There were more trees and lots of birds. We were overtaken by road trains loaded with raw cotton, growing in this wetter part of the country.

The tiny village of Hermidale had no rooms but we found the Royal Tavern, run by a very friendly family. Although they were closing at 5 pm (in order to clean all the carpets!), they gave permission to camp free of charge in the back garden and even brought us beans on toast and coffee! We were welcome to pick the oranges, drink the rainwater and use the hot water and toilet.

Tom, a champion clay pigeon shooter (and licensed kangaroo hunter), managed the pub with his wife, mother of 5-year-old daughter Taylor and new baby Jack. His in-laws (known as Nan & Poppy) had come to help out, taking a break from their work as nurses in Newcastle. Taylor joined us in the tent until her bed-time, entertaining us with her curiosity, rewarded with our chocolate.

After dark, we watched 2 wild pigs being unloaded from a hunting 'ute' and hung in the roadside cooler, from where they will be collected by truck. It rained hard in the night and our little short-wave radio reported terrific storms in Melbourne.

9 August 2000   Nyngan,   Riverside Caravan Park   50 km cycled

After a great breakfast of sausages, eggs and toast on the tavern porch, we had an easy morning's ride with a back wind to Nyngan.

We shopped for food, then took a good cabin on the CP by the Bogan River. The campground had a sad little zoo with one emu, one ostrich, a few wallabies and lots of budgies and parrots. Nyngan, the capital of Bogan Shire at the centre of NSW, is famous for the flood of April 1990, when the entire population of the town had to be evacuated by helicopter to Dubbo. Luckily, no-one drowned.

10 August 2000   Warren,   Macquarie Caravan Park   82 km cycled

At Nyngan the Barrier Highway, that we'd followed from Broken Hill, meets the Mitchell Highway (continuing to Bourke and the far north). We followed the Mitchell, parallel with the railway line, for 60 km to the village of Nevertire (a good photo opportunity by the sign!) We were riding along the edge of the Macquarie Marshes, an important wetland area, with plenty of birdlife on the ponds and ditches. We saw egrets, herons and ducks, as well as 3 emus and some sturdy merino sheep in the fields.

At Nevertire RTW_2000_017.jpgwe lunched on fish & chips in a new café, then turned north-east for 20 km along the Oxley Highway to Warren, the 'Wool and Cotton Capital of Australia'. By the railway, the cotton harvest was gathered in 3 cotton warehouses, awaiting transportation to Sydney. Warren is our largest town since Broken Hill – it even has a roundabout!

There are 2 caravan parks (one run by the Council) but only the privately owned Macquarie CP, across the Macquarie River, had cabins. This weekend is Warren Show and the local smith came to shoe the 2 ponies, to be ridden by the spoilt daughters of the CP owners. It was a very cold night.

11 August 2000   Gilgandra,   Rotary Caravan Park   88 km cycled

The Oxley Highway remained very quiet, with a cold south wind. We rode through wheat and sheep farming country, with tall trees and lots of wild life – water birds, 3 foxes (2 of them alive) and 3 adult emus (one, with 5 young, chasing the others away).

Shopping in Gilgandra, we bought a hot roast 'chook', then crossed the Castlereagh River to the CP. We had an excellent cabin, at a below-average price of A$39 including linen (which normally costs extra, so we use our own towels and sleeping bags.)

Gilgandra is the 'Home of the Coo-ees'. In 1915, 35 men marched from here to Sydney to enlist and were joined by 228 others, who answered their traditional bush call. This 'Coo-ee March' is commemorated in the annual Coo-ee Festival in October!

12 August 2000   Tooraweenah,   Tooraweenah Caravan Park   45 km cycled

From Gilgandra our route lay along the Newell Highway (Melbourne–Brisbane) for the next 95 km, as far as Coonabarabran. The Newell was much busier, with plenty of heavy trucks, and the wind and hills made it slow going.

After 40 km, eating our lunch by a cross-roads, we decided to break the ride by staying in Tooraweenah, 4 km north of the Highway, at the foot of the Warrumbungle Range and National Park. The village had one hotel, a shop/post office and a CP, where we got a cabin.

Studying the map, we saw a choice: returning to the narrow and dangerous Newell Highway or taking a detour through the National Park, which is 20 km longer and not all on bitumen! The scenic route won our vote.

13 August 2000   Coonabarabran,   Wayfarer Caravan Park   77 km cycled

Rain began to fall as we rode 25 km to the beginning of a dirt road. Heavier rain drenched us as we followed the 8 km of unsealed track and then 7 km of bitumen, into the middle of the Warrumbungle National Park. It was mountainous and wooded, with some grazing emus and literally dozens of kangaroos and wallabies, standing still to enjoy the downpour.

The Visitor Centre had just 2 very grateful visitors on this wet morning. The kind Ranger made us a pot of tea, as we ate our sandwiches by her fire. Our outer clothing, hung over the chairs, steamed gently! Sadly, she couldn't offer any accommodation.

A tough climb out of the National Park followed, through torrential rain and even hail for another 36 km to 'Coona'. In the town we could only find a poor take-away food place, so we carried our supper to the CP, got a cabin and sat by the single-bar electric heater. We were soaked and chilled right through, exhausted and suffering indigestion from the sudden intake of greasy food. Our clothes and pannier bags, draped around the room, made puddles on the floor and steamed up the cabin! This was a low point but at least we didn't have to put the tent up.

14 August 2000   Coonabarabran,   Wayfarer Caravan Park   0 km cycled

A fine day after yesterday's deluge. Barry rested after a disturbed night of weird dreams, while M did the laundry, hung our shoes and pannier bags out to dry and talked to the tame sulphur-crested cockatoo, who said 'Hello, hello, hello!'

After lunch M walked into 'Coona' (20 minutes downhill) to shop and get a haircut, returning by taxi. After cooking a hearty stew, followed by apple pie & custard, we revived enough to lie on the bed and watch TV ('Chicago Hope').

15 August 2000   Mullaley,   Post Hotel and Caravan Park   72 km cycled

Leaving Coonabarabran, it was bright and cloudy with a back wind, at last. After 7 km, the busy Newell Highway turned left, taking most of the heavy trucks with it, and we continued on the Oxley Highway, which was quieter but very narrow. We made fast descents in the rolling hills (Barry's max speed over 60 kph, Margaret's a more cautious 55 kph).

We paused twice to brew up in tall thick woods at the roadside, but the only wildlife was a dead wild pig lying in the road! Reaching Mullaley in the early afternoon, we found a small roadhouse/hotel with a very rough CP behind it. There were just a few resident workers' caravans and some simple huts, without water.

WOz_2000_(31).jpge took a cabin, then spent most of the evening by a log fire in the Post Hotel pub, where we got a meal of chicken kiev and veggies. Entertainment was provided in the dining room by a TV showing 'The Bill' (twice weekly on ABC, the national channel), but it was more interesting to watch the locals playing snooker – a cue in one hand, a meat pie in the other! Those not playing were propping up the bar, wearing cowboy hats, denims and the obligatory Rossi Boots, resembling film extras. The juke box played country music, a reminder that we are nearing Tamworth, the Nashville of Australia!

16 August 2000   Tamworth,   Austin Caravan Park (Top Tourist)   123 km cycled

A strong back wind helped us to reach Gunnedah before lunch, so we decided to continue to Tamworth, through rolling hills and cattle ranches. Arriving in such a large busy town (the biggest since Perth) was a culture shock after so long in the outback.

It went dark (about 6 pm) as we were eating in a KFC, followed by an unpleasant 4 km ride along the New England Highway to the Austin CP. The road was very busy with trucks, the verge inconsistent and uneven, and we felt very vulnerable. We passed the Paradise CP (Big 4 group) and several motels, before reaching the place we had booked.

OOz_2000_(26).jpgur reward was a splendid cabin and the manager, worried by our late arrival, had made up the bed and put an electric blanket on! Very welcome, it was a freezing night. We bought a few essentials (biscuits, chocolate and cheese) at the Ampol petrol station across the road and slept well.

Today we passed 4,000 km since Perth – 2,500 miles – and the empty outback is behind us. We shall miss it.

17 August 2000   Tamworth,   Austin Caravan Park   11 km cycled

A busy 'rest day' in Tamworth, the capital of the New England region, on the Peel River. (Robert Peel was MP for Tamworth in England, after which the town is named.) Settlers first arrived in 1830 and it claims to be the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to install electric lighting.

Barry serviced the bicycles (greased the chains, checked the brakes and changed some of the brake blocks, adjusted and greased M's front bearings). M was busy with laundry and phone calls to book accommodation on the next stretch.

After lunch we rode back into town to shop. The excellent 'Tamworth Cycles' supplied us with a new pump, grease and spare brake blocks, plus a free gift – 2 sachets of energy-giving 'Fast Food for Athletes', chocolate flavour. Better keep them for emergency! We also bought gas for the stove at a camping shop and food from Coles, in the K-Mart Mall.

We saw little evidence of Tamworth's status as Australia's country & western centre, apart from a couple of shops selling cowboy-wear. We missed the 12 m-high Golden Guitar, as it's on the Sydney road to the south, but the Visitor Centre told of 5 recording studios in the area. The best known country singer is Slim Dusty, now aged over 80 and soon to sing 'Waltzing Matilda' at the Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony.

18 August 2000   Bendemeer,   Bendemeer Caravan Park   39 km cycled

Warned by the proprietor of 'Tamworth Cycles' that the road to Bendemeer would be a hard climb, we left before 9 am, riding the edge of the New England Highway through cattle-farming country and roadside development to the village of Moonbi.

We made coffee in the park there before tackling the Moonbi Range, where 2 successive hills slowed the lorries (and us) to a crawl. The split highway had escape lanes for downhill runaways. There was no height marker at the summit but we guessed it was over 1,000 m (starting from 460 m in Tamworth). After our toughest ascent on this ride, we brewed tea at the top in warm sunshine. A swift descent (max 57 kph) followed, through some roadworks to the little village of Bendemeer, where a road turns off to the coast at Port Macquarie.

The CP, just off the new bypass, had a terraced row of small cabins overlooking the Macdonald River. The owners recently camOz_2000_(27).jpge from South Africa and chatted at length about their youngest daughter, backpacking round Europe. The village (store, post office, school and church) lay over the river, crossed by 2 bridges – an old wooden one (now for pedestrians) and a newer concrete one for vehicles.

We cooked sausages and made cheesecake from a packet mix, then walked down to the river at dusk (as instructed) in search of platypus, though we saw only rabbits. Even the possums in the campground trees were hiding!

19 August 2000   Armidale,   Highlander Village Caravan Park   77 km cycled

Continuing along the New England Highway, with a couple of reasonable climbs, we passed a sign on a summit 'Great Dividing Range, 1165 m' or 3,845 ft. The road was often 3 lanes wide (2 up and 1 down), with a good shoulder to ride.We made lunch after 50 km in a park by the river in Uralla, a small town with a Military Museum and a caravan park.

Armidale 'City of Heritage and Beauty' is a short detour off the New England Highway, and we arrived early in the afternoon. At 980 m (over 3,200 ft) it's Australia's highest city and home to the country's oldest rural university, the University of New England. From here, a road called the Waterfall Way leads through a scenic gorge to the coast at Coffs Harbour, but our route remains inland, keeping on the New England Highway.

Turning off into the city (Cathedral and all), we were surprised to find most shops closed (it's Saturday). Even the cafes were closing at 3 pm, so we got a quick cappuccino and shopped at Coles (the only store open) before climbing 2 km along the Glen Innes road to the Highlander CP. A comfortable cabin next to a field of deer awaited.

As we made dinner and watched TV, the mother of the site owner called in to see us. She'd noticed Margaret's name in the register and told us that her own mother was a Gorrie from Crief in Scotland, while her father came from Leeds. This might be called New England, but it's an area once settled by Scots.

20 August 2000   Guyra, Guyra Motel   37 km cycled

More climbing along the New England Highway, with the sign 'Overtaking Lane next 2 km' regularly signifying the steepest sections. At least the cold wind was more or less behind us.

Approaching the small wool and lamb producing town of Guyra (at 1300 m or 4,300 ft), we passed the Crystal Trout Caravan Park, claiming to be the 'Highest in Australia' (a continent which is definitely not all flat). We might have stayed there, but they could only offer a chilly non-suite caravan, which didn't compete with the comforts of the 2 motels along the road.

We checked into the second motel, walked into the town centre for lunch in a café, then returned to our room just as heavy rain and hail set in. It had been a good decision not to continue to Glen Innes (or to take the caravan).

21 August 2000   Glen Innes,   Craigieburn Tourist Park (Big 4)   63 km cycled

With a cold back wind, we continued through the Scottish region of New England. After climbing to 1410 m (4,655 ft) in the Ben Lomond Range, we dropped steeply down Ben Lomond Hill into Glencoe village! There were sheep, cattle, tall pine trees and green hills – and a rocky area known as Stonehenge just after Glencoe. The settlers were a bit geographically challenged!

Craigieburn, 2 km before the town of Glen Innes, is set in a lovely park with spectacular granite rock boulders. We arrived in time to make lunch in our cabin, then Barry replaced the heavy thorn-resistant inner tubes in our rear wheels, now that the spiky saltbush Oz_2000_(30).jpgcountry is behind us. (They did seem to work.) M took care of laundry and phone calls.

There are various names for this part of New England (which is actually in New South Wales) – including the Tablelands, the Granite Belt, the Celtic Centre and the New England Highlands! Glen Innes, at 1062 m (3,500 ft), is the centre of 'Celtic Country', settled mainly by Scots since 1838. Our hosts told us that sapphires and other gems are still mined in the area. We also learnt that the Olympic Flame is due here tomorrow afternoon, so we shall bide awhile.

22 August 2000   Glen Innes,   Craigieburn Tourist Park   9 km cycled

We cycled into town and continued uphill to the Centennial Park, site of the 'Australian Standing Stones'. This stone circle was erected in 1992 as a national monument to the Celts who have settled in Australia over the past 200 years, from Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man and Brittany, as well as Scotland.

Based on the prehistoric circles at Callanish (Isle of Lewis) and Brodgar (Orkney) – both of which we've visited – it has 24 stones in a ring, aligned with the solstices, and 5 inner stones forming the Southern Cross. This replica of Ancient Celtic Culture, set in the southern hemisphere, is proudly labelled as the only megalithic circle built anywhere for over 3,500 years! The granite stones might look better once they've weathered a bit, in a few hundred years. At the nearby 'Crofters Cottage' (with modern thatch), offering Cornish Cream Teas and Celtic souvenirs, we got some post cards. Otherwise no-one back home will believe it!

Today the site was Oz_2000_(32).jpgpreparing for the arrival of the Olympic Flame, expected to reach the Standing Stones at 2.30 pm. The town worthies, school children, police and mixed infants were gathering round a stage, folded down from the side of a gleaming monster truck – one that had passed us as we rode across the Nullarbor. A cauldron stood ready for lighting.

We dropped back downhill to the town centre, to shop before the stores all closed at 1 pm. Then we watched the flame arrive along the main street, carried by dozens of torch-bearers in turn, each walking or running a short distance before passing the flame on from torch to torch. There were almost as many police as onlookers, as most of the people were waiting up at the Stones.

Back in our cabin, we wrote letters and post cards and watched the events unfold on local TV.

23 August 2000   Tenterfield,   7 Knights Tourist Park   95 km cycled

Away through Glen Innes and along the New England Highway, which rolled up and down to a backdrop of woods and cattle. We saw an occasional dead kangaroo at the roadside, as well as foxes. We had a strong wind from the west and north-west (side and head) and showers through the morning.

After 45 km we dried out over lunch by the fire in a roadhouse in Deepwater. Then there was more climbing, followed by a descent from the top of Bolivia Hill (1065 m or 3,500 ft) and yet more climbing. We passed the granite outcrop of Bluff Rock, 5 miles before Tenterfield, then came to the Tourist Park (behind the Ampol Services) about a mile before the town, at 850 m (2,800 ft).

We had another comfortable night in another comfortable en-suite cabin with TV, watching 'Blue Heelers' (Australia's answer to 'The Bill', though 'Bill' is the most popular programme on television here).

Tenterfield was the site of Sir Henry Parkes' famous 'Call for One Nation' speech in 1889, which set in motion the movement to Australian Federation (following on New Year's Day 1901). The centenary of the speech was recently celebrated by Prime Minister John Howard in London. The town is also celebrated in song. It's the home of the composer Peter Allen (briefly married to Lisa Minelli), who wrote 'Tenterfield Saddler' about his grandfather. And one of our favourite songs heard on Macca's Sunday morning radio show is 'Shopping on a Saturday in 1945, Going into Tenterfield, a 2-mile buggy ride' – a poignant memory of the war years, when Dad was away in the army.

24 August 2000    Stanthorpe,  Top of the Town Caravan Park (Big 4),    Queensland   61 km cycled

After a night of heavy wind and rain, it was dry with a cold side/head wind. It was a climb out of Tenterfield and just 10 miles to the NSW/Queensland border. We made coffee at the border village of Wallangarra, which advertised 'First Beer, Petrol, etc in Queensland'. It looked much like the beer, petrol, etc in NSW but prices are lower (with less taxes).

On through rolling country, stopping to eat lunch in the woods just after the vineyard village of Ballandean. This area of vines and apple orchards is known as the Granite Belt. To our right lay the Girraween National Park and beyond it Bald Rock – the second biggest in Australia (after Ayers Rock) and the country's largest granite rock. We couldn't see it!

Arriving in Stanthorpe, we stocked up on food before climbing a hill to the Big 4 CP. We got a budget cabin (at the usual sort of price of A$55, less 10% = A$49.50, or just under ₤20). They also had luxury cabins with a genuine log fire, a tradition here in the winter. Up at 800 m (2,640 ft), Stanthorpe claims the title 'Coldest Place in Queensland' (probably true, as most of the State lies above the Tropic!) We had noticed netting over the cherry orchards to protect from hail storms.

The town's name means 'Tin Village' but the tin-mining boom only lasted for 15 years. The Italian immigrants established vineyards and fruit orchards and many of the 10,000 population are of Italian origin. We even noticed the accent in Woolworths.

We cooked lamb chops for supper, but the local strawberries were a bit tough.

25 August 2000   Warwick,   Warwick Tourist Caravan Park   64 km cycled

Heard on the TV news that the Guyra-Glen Innes road has been blocked by snow since yesterday! We crossed the pass just in time, 3 days ahead of it.

Back on the New England Highway, we climbed past apple and pear orchards, sad that we couldn't carry one of the boxes of fruit on sale. We turned off the highway for a detour to the village of Summit (aptly named at 940 m or 3,100 ft), with Queensland's highest post office and railway station. This 'Fruit Run' tourist drive followed a few miles of quieter road, parallel to the highway, which gave some relief from the trucks and added only one km to our distance.

After making coffee in the woods, then more climbing, there was a long descent to the city of Warwick down at 500 m (1,650 ft). We passed the Big 4 CP a couple of miles before the centre but they had no vacant cabins (it's weekend). The city has some imposing stone buildings (cathedral, post office, etc) and is famous for its annual rodeo and its roses. In the shopping centre we were videoed by a French woman on holiday, who had never seen cycle-tourists before!

We had lunch in a Red Rooster and the Tourist Office told of 2 other campgrounds to try. The first one we came to, as we left the city, provided a simple room (no kitchen).

26 August 2000   Toowoomba,   Toowoomba Motor Village Caravan Park (Top Tourist)   81 km cycled

One of the toughest days, riding north-west with a very strong side wind from the west. We debated whether to go directly to Brisbane, which would have been easier, or follow our intended route via Toowoomba, where we'd been invited to visit the son of English friends. Was Dave Smith worth riding 50 miles into a head wind to meet?! We chose to find out.

After 24 km we turned off the New England Highway into the village of Allora, on the Sunflower Route, for some welcome shelter, coffee and bacon sandwiches in a café. Then back on the highway, rolling up and down (but mostly up) the Darling Downs. This is bare, windswept cattle country with scarcely a tree to break the wind. The gusts sometimes made us afraid of being blown across into the traffic and we leant left into the wind for balance. Margaret's Olympic Torch pennant, fastened to her rear carrier since Glen Innes, snapped off and blew away.

For shelter to make lunch, we crawled under a bridge over a creek. The next chance for a break was a pot of tea at a BP filling station before the final hard climb into Toowoomba 'The Garden City', set on hills at 800 m (2,640 ft). With a population of 100,000 (double that of Scunthorpe!), it's our largest town since Perth.

The New England Highway became the main thoroughfare of Ruthven Street, with a Top Tourist CP on the left just past a McDonalds/Shell station. It was a relief to get a good cabin, do the laundry, make a corned beef stew (with a tin of meat carried 'for emergency' since Norseman) and rest in front of the TV.

27 August 2000   Toowoomba,   At the home of the Smith's   10 km cycled

We cycled 3 km downhill to the Tourist Info Centre (on the Brisbane road) to get a city map and ring Dave. By 11.30 am we had found his bungalow, met his wife and in-laws (visiting from Canberra), along with 2 cats and a performing pet parakeet, and told our story over coffee! We were made very welcome and the family insisted we stay the night.

After Sunday lunch there was a big Rugby League match on TV (Brisbane beat Sydney), with plenty of cheering and cider-drinking. Barry surfed the internet for more information on the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane.

28 August 2000   Ipswich,   Heritage Motor Inn   105 km cycled

Up at 7 am for a cup of tea with our hosts, who all left for work before 7.30 am. We rode into the city, shopped at the Central Court (for food and Australian music CDs), then joined Dave and family at his wife's café, for coffee, raisin toast and farewells.

Taking the Warrego Highway, our route dropped steeply (gradient 10%) for 4 km, leaving Toowoomba and its hills behind. The highway was mostly dual carriageway, apart from a stretch of about 20 km past Gatton, through fruit- and vegetable-growing plains. It was good to have a back wind from the west.

We stopped after 50 km for lunch at a service station/McDonalds, just as rain began. It then poured for the rest of the ride to Ipswich. The road was wet and busy and a kind van-driver stopped to offer us a lift to Brisbane (and thought we were mad to decline). We passed nothing but a lone motel (closed on Mondays) and then another service station, where we got a pot of tea.

With no accommodation on the highway, we turned off into Ipswich – a hilly 5 km detour – to find the caravan park closed. Just before dark we finally reached a pair of motels on the Warwick road, expensive but very welcome. Tomorrow we should reach Brisbane (40 km away) and the Pacific Ocean, DV, Insh Allah. We studied the Brisbane Street Directory that Dave had supplied.

29 August 2000   Tingalpa, Brisbane,   Nestle-in Caravan Park   57 km cycled

Better conditions: dry and sunny, with a strong west wind still behind us. From Ipswich we cycled the busy road for 13 km to the start of the Ipswich Motorway. The Ipswich Police Station had advisedOz_2000_(33).jpg that bicycles were allowed on the motorway, but we were able to avoid its 30 km of heavy traffic to Brisbane by turning left round Riverview Road to a ferry.

We passed 'Affordable Caravans' (and checked to see what was on offer for under A$5,000 – not a lot!) Then we crossed the River Brisbane on a Hungarian-style free ferry, plying to-and-fro to Moggill. After brewing up in the riverside park, we followed Moggill Road, up and down through exclusive dormitory developments for 16 km to the edge of the capital city of Queensland.

A McDonalds in Chapel Hill provided lunch, before increasingly busy roads through Indooroopilly. Traffic lights gave plenty of practice at hill-starts as we followed the river to the city centre. On Adelaide Street we found the head office of Qantas (to exchange our plane tickets for revised dates). Also called at the RAC office and the Tourist Office for maps and information. A cup of coffee, a phone call to book a cabin, then we were glad to leave the city!

Avoiding the Freeway ('No Bicycles'), we had to cross the river and ride along Vulture Street past Kangaroo Point (seeing neither birds nor animals!) Using the bus lanes and cycle lanes to stay alive, we went out along route 23 to Tingalpa, just 6 km short of the coast at Manly. We settled in our cabin, phoned friends in Brisbane to arrange a visit, and watched TV. Almost there!

30 August 2000   The Gap, Brisbane,   At the home of the Denton's   56 km cycled

An exciting 6 km ridRTW_2000_019.jpge to the sea, at Manly on Moreton Bay, completed our coast to coast – Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean. We'd been warned that Moreton Bay was just mud flats but the tide was right in (rather like Morecambe Bay). We rode up and down the Esplanade, taking in the view, trying to believe it!

Manly is a genteel sort of resort, RTW_2000_018.jpgwith lots of pelicans. We made coffee at one of the many picnic tables, then cycled past the outdoor swimming pool, along Pandanus Beach and Wynnum to the Mangrove Board Walk. Here we had a fascinating one-km walk through mangrove swamps, the first we'd seen. Freshly fried cod & chips, eaten in the park with our own tea, bread and butter, were delicious.

The ride back to BrisbaneOz_2000_(34).jpg city was wearisome, taking a wrong turn and joining heavy traffic across the famous Story Bridge. (Later learnt that cyclists are not allowed on it, but we saw no signs!) It was hilly and the wind blew as we pushed on through Ashgrove to the Gap, following directions to the home of Ken & Julie, who we'd first met in Greece. We'd almost despaired of finding their house when we saw a place with streamers across the drive!

They gave us an amazing welcome and big mugs of tea, followed by a lovely meal and a comfortable bed. We had made it across Australia, with 18 days left on our 3-month visa.

This was really the end of our ride across Australia, but we had a few days left on our visa and so we decided to cycle north, up the Queensland coast. In the event, given the traffic, the head winds and the time available, we only cycled 490 km (300 miles) as far as the rum and sugar town of Bundaberg. Returning by train, we flew from the dry, crackling, smoke-filled heat of Brisbane into the green coolness of Auckland and New Zealand

31 August/1 September 2000   The Gap, Brisbane,   At the home of the Denton's

It felt very strange indeed to ride in a car at speed, when our friends kindly drove us up the Sunshine Coast for a beach picnic at Caloundra. This was a different kind of Australia, with surfers, lifeguards and up-market coffee houses, but we did find a good second-hand book shop. We returned to The Gap via Deception Bay and Redcliffe, an older seaside resort with the lovely 1920's wooden villas known as Queenslanders.

We talked, ate, drank, went through the packet of mail from England and caught up with our laundry – but soon we were actually yearning to get back on our bikes, which no-one could understand!

2 September 2000   Brisbane,   Aspley Acres Caravan Park (Top Tourist)   20 km cycled

After a leisurely breakfast and farewells, we tackled the congestion, hills and traffic lights of Brisbane once again. There was a very blustery south-westerly blowing and the Saturday morning shoppers' cars added to the hazards. We had a coffee break and got supplies (at Franklins supermarket) on the way to Aspley Acres, the nearest CP to Brisbane Airport (16 km away).

Here we checked into a super cabin and arranged to leave our camping gear (tent and sleeping mats) at the Reception, returning in a week's time before flying to Auckland. Our plan was to cycle (with less baggage) as far north up the Queensland coast as possible in the time, returning by train. Maybe we'd make it to the Tropic of Capricorn at Rockhampton?

We wrote letters, watched TV and cooked supper, with a feeling of great satisfaction. We had cycled across the driest continent on earth, Ocean to Ocean: 4,900 km (3,063 miles) in 57 days of riding. Anything extra was now a bonus.

3 September 2000   Caloundra,   Danmira Tourist Park (Big 4)   96 km cycled

Riding north on the Gympie Road, minus a pannier or two, the wind had dropped and the sun was hot. Margaret's head was attacked by urban magpies (who get vicious in the nesting season) and the compulsory cycle helmet proved useful at last! We avoided the Bruce Highway (Road No 1) by following the Old Gympie Road, through Strathpine and Petrie, but traffic lights, hill starts and Sunday drivers did not make it an easy route.

After making coffee in a park, we rode on through Burpengary, with the Sunshine Coast ahead. In Caboolture we crossed the railway track and found ourselves on the Bruce Highway (no signs and no alternative) but it had a broad shoulder to ride. We made lunch by a service station at the Donnybrook exit, then left the highway at the next exit for Beerburrum.

For the next 10 km, to Glass House, we cycled through pineapple plantations with roadside fruit stalls. The Glass House Mountains (named from his ship by Captain Cook and explored by Flinders a century or so later) rose in odd volcanic shapes to our left. We made tea by the railway station at Landsborough, a historic little town.

Then we turned east for Caloundra (a modern resort developed from a tiny fishing village). After 15 miles of rolling forest we met the sea, just to the south of Golden Beach. Some of the woodlands were still smouldering from recent bush fires and the central reservation was being doused by firemen. It's been Brisbane's driest year for half a century.

We found a nicely appointed cabin at Golden Beach and watched the final instalment of Robert Hughes' 'The Fatal Shore', which we've been following on TV. It was a most unsatisfactory episode, about the recent Monarchy/Republic Referendum.

4 September 2000   Tewantin-Noosa,   Bougainvillia Caravan Park (Big 4)   93 km cycled

Riding through Caloundra, we used the cycle paths along the shore, past King's Beach, Moffat Beach, Dicky Beach and on to Currimundi, searching for a road across the lake estuary. At Point Cartwright Lookout we made coffee by the lighthouse, then had to cross a bridge at the start of the Sunshine Motorway (despite the 'No Cycling' sign).

After fish & chips at Maroochydore, we had more problems crossing another estuary. We had to ride the Sunshine Motorway briefly before getting onto the David Low Way, nearer the coast but with only occasional glimpses of the sea. We liked the warm sun and back wind as we rode through the sugar cane fields (after yesterday's pineapples – it's getting more tropical). We did not like the volume of traffic. The coast is getting increasingly built up, new 'life style' resorts mushrooming, with inspired names like 'Town of Seaside'!

Entering the Noosa National Park (with pictures of koala bears, though we saw none), Margaret's front tyre deflated dramatically on a downhill as the inner tube burst, probably due to the heat! Once fixed, we reached Noosa Heads, then turned about 5 miles inland to the Big 4 CP for another good en-suite cabin. There was a lush green growth of ferns and palm trees, wherever the land had not been cleared for building.

5 September 2000   Gympie,   Gympie Caravan Park   63 km cycled

The day began with a steep climb through wooded hills, west (inland) from Tewantin to Cooroy. Here we joined the Bruce Highway (route 1), no longer a motorway but a 2-lane road with a good shoulder and several stretches of roadworks.

We made coffee in the woods at the roadside, meeting no development at all until Gympie, at 56 km. It was very sunny again (29 deg C) with a light north wind. In Gympie we lunched at McDonalds and checked on accommodation further north. Apparently nothing until Maryborough (over 80 km), so we shopped and rode a short distance up the Bruce Highway to the CP. They had simple cabins for A$38.50 (somewhat cheaper than at the coastal resorts).

6 September 2000   Maryborough,   Wallace Caravan Park/Motel   86 km cycled

Before leaving, Margaret phoned Brisbane Rail Enquiries to book seats on the 'Sunlander' from Rockhampton (on the Tropic) in 6 days' time. Coming down from Cairns, it departs Rocky at 5 am, arriving Brisbane 4.10 pm, and carries bicycles – 'No worries'.

As we left the CP we met a lone cyclist (an endangered species), Andrew from Tasmania, taking a post-university year out. Heading for Cairns, he soon left us behind to battle our way up the hilly Bruce Highway in a gathering north wind. The traffic was in a great hurry to pass us; the trucks had a killer instinct.

Stopping after 20 miles at a café, we found it closed so brewed up outside. Better luck at a roadside café in Tiaro, with excellent sandwiches (bacon & egg or prawn salad!) Riding on through the plantations, we were buzzed by sugar cane lorries and attacked by another magpie. It's certainly more dangerous than the Outback!

It was a relief to turn off the highway for a couple of miles to Maryborough, after a hot hard day.

7 September 2000   Childers,   Sugar Bowl Caravan Park   67 km cycled

Another morning of head wind, heavy traffic on the Bruce Highway and trucks hooting as they deliberately tried to run us off the road. This is no pleasure, just a survival challenge.

At Torbanlea, over a drink by a service station, we reluctantly abandoned the plan to reach Rockhampton, in view of the wind and the dangerous traffic. We decided to catch the Sunlander train in Bundaberg, so we had an easier day, aiming for Childers rather than continuing to Gin Gin. We had to hide from the wind and trucks under a road bridge, to eat our cheese sandwiches for lunch.

Childers was recently in the news for a tragic fire at the backpackers hostel in July, in which 15 fruit-picking youngsters died. We couldn't avoid passing the site of the disaster, in the turn-of-the-century Palace Hotel right in the town centre. It was part of the row of Gaydon's Buildings, whose historic façade also housed the Pharmaceutical Museum, Art Gallery, 1887 Post Office, etc. The hostel's 'fine joinery and stained glass surround of the main entrance door' (described in the Childers Town Guide) was all gone; in fact, the building was totally gutted, just a charred blistered skeleton, with the modern 'Silly Sollys' store ludicrously intact next door. There were still piles of floral tributes on the pavement outside. We shuddered as we dismounted to walk past.

We shopped for food (a roast chicken) and found a cabin at the CP a mile north of town. A couple of phone calls reorganised our schedule – booking a cabin in Bundaberg for the next 2 nights, changing the train ticket and finishing with 3 nights at Aspley Acres in Brisbane. No drama!

8 September 2000   Bundaberg,   Cane Village Caravan Park (Big 4)   65 km cycled

A mile back into Childers, where we left the Bruce Highway for good (no regrets) and took the 'Tourist Route' to Bundaberg, a town built on sugar. This road was wonderfully quiet, riding through gently rolling sugar cane fields, occasionally crossing the track of the cane railway, with short lengths of cane strewn along the verges. Past the turning to Woodgate (on the coast), we brewed up in woods.

It was very hot (32 deg C or over 90 F) and our first stop in Bundaberg was a McDonalds, for long cold drinks and 30-cent ice creams. Then we called at the railway station for our tickets (and a small refund) and the Tourist Office for a town map, etc.

The Cane Village CP is 5 km out along the Isis Highway (we are in Isis-shire and have crossed the Isis River, though it doesn't look much like Oxford). We arrived in time to make a late lunch (chicken sandwiches) in a beautiful cabin. It's a splendid campground, with palm trees, tropical flowers and a pool – this year's winner of Bundy's 'Best Garden Competition', in fact. We felt we deserved it, after riding 490 km (over 300 miles) from the home of our friends in Brisbane, and a total of 5,446 km (3,404 miles) since landing in Perth, less than 3 months ago.

9 September 2000   Bundaberg,   Cane Village Caravan Park

A rest day (no cycling!), keeping in the shade. We visited Woolworths in the nearby Sugarland Shopping Centre, trying a bottle of Bundaberg's famous ginger beer (very refreshing). The town is also the home of Bundy Rum and the Distillery offers guided tours, including a video and sample drink. We resisted the offer of a 25% discount on this for Big 4 members (so that's where they all are!)

This is the tourist playground of the Coral Coast and Margaret was tempted by an advertised Whale Watching boat trip, to see the humpback whales in Platypus Bay (between Hervey Bay and Fraser Island). Sadly it goes tomorrow - and so do we! Today's trip from Port Bundaberg (the city is 15 minutes' drive inland on the Burnett River) is a Great Barrier Reef Cruise to Lady Musgrave Island, for snorkelling and scuba diving, which didn't have the same appeal.

10 September 2000   Brisbane,   Aspley Acres Caravan Park (Top Tourist)   20 km cycled

It was an easy 5 km ride to Bundaberg Railway Station, where our bikes were put in the baggage locker at the front of the very long 'Sunlander' train. They each cost 20% of an adult fare (under A$10 per cycle), an excellent service. The train left Bundy at 9.30 am, having set out from Cairns at 8.30 am yesterday!

The 'Sunlander' had sleeper compartments, comfortable reserved seats, showers, restaurant, buffet car – there was even a raffle on board! We made very smooth progress, travelling effortlessly and calling at many familiar places: Maryborough, Gympie, Cooroy, Nambour, Caboolture, through the smouldering forest fires and so to Brisbane.

We were armed with plenty of sandwiches, fruit juice, books and crossword puzzles and the journey flew by, arriving at Roma Street Station on time at 4.10 pm. The city was unusually quiet on a Sunday afternoon and we rode the 15 km to Aspley Acres before dark. We checked into our cabin, collected the pannier bags left at Reception, then ate at Hungry Jack's (Burger King) across the busy highway.

11/12 September 2000   Brisbane,   Aspley Acres Caravan Park

During our last 2 days in Australia, we prepared for New Zealand. We had to ring Qantas to confirm our flight to Auckland, do our laundry and shop at the massive Pick'n'Pay shopping mall behind the CP. We bought a cheap holdall to use as a flight bag, having donated our last one to a charity shop in Perth.

Barry checked and oiled the bikes, M learnt to use the electric frying pan provided in the cabin (mixed grill and pancakes!) There were also post cards and letters to write (including thanks to our hosts in Toowoomba and Brisbane). The maps and guide book for Australia were packed up and posted (sea-mail) back to England. Our remaining camping gas canisters were given away (not allowed on planes). A whole new country awaited.

13 September 2000   Auckland, New Zealand,   Airport Pensione   16 km cycled

A leisurely morning to finish packing and ride the 10 miles to Brisbane Airport, in just under an hour, for flight QF025 to Auckland, departing at 4.30 pm.

After establishing that bike boxes (at A$16.50 each) were not compulsory, whatever we'd been told on the phone, we prepared the bikes and bags. There was plenty of time left to convince the check-in girl that Barry had let the tyres down, and to drink expensive coffee with our sandwiches.

Packed into a full Boeing 747-400, the 2.5 hour flight eastwards over the Tasman Sea went smoothly, with a good roast lamb dinner. New Zealand is 2 hours ahead of Australian time, making it 9 pm, dark and cold, when we landed. We passed through the food quarantine point (depositing our excess cheese & tomato sandwiches in the yellow bin), collected bags and bikes, then had to declare one 'used tent' (including pegs, poles and inner) to the Ministry of Agriculture for inspection. Luckily, it passed – we saw some travellers have their hiking boots confiscated, being charged for cleaning!

At last we were allowed through, with a free 6-month permit. It was far too late to start reassembling the bicycles and looking for a room. A free phone call from the information corner, to the Airport Pensione (recommended in Lonely Planet), solved all our problems. The landlady came at once in a white van to collect us (bikes and all) and 5 minutes later we had an en-suite bedroom in her guest house, the bikes in the adjacent room, with a limitless supply of tea/coffee and the promise of a light breakfast tomorrow. All for NZ$65 (at NZ$3 = ₤1). A good start.

Distance Table for the Cycle Ride across Australia

Day

Place

Distance

Distance

Cumulative

Cumulative

Average

Average

No

(km)

(miles)

(km)

(miles)

(km)

(miles)

Fremantle(Indian Ocean)

1

Perth

32

20

32

20

32

20

2

Northam

100

63

132

83

66

41

3

Cunderdin

62

39

194

121

65

40

4

Kellerberrin

51

32

245

153

61

38

5

Merredin

67

42

312

195

62

39

6

Southern Cross

115

72

427

267

71

44

7

Camp Boorabbin

131

82

558

349

80

50

8

Coolgardie

62

39

620

388

78

48

9

Widgiemooltha

79

49

699

437

78

49

10

Norseman

100

63

799

499

80

50

11

Frasers Range

108

68

907

567

82

52

12

Balladonia RH

91

57

998

624

83

52

13

Camp Baxters

116

73

1114

696

86

54

14

Caiguna RH

68

43

1182

739

84

53

15

Cocklebiddy RH

67

42

1249

781

83

52

16

Madura Pass RH

93

58

1342

839

84

52

17

Mundrabilla RH

118

74

1460

913

86

54

18

Eucla

67

42

1527

954

85

53

19

Camp Bunda Cliffs

150

94

1677

1048

88

55

20

Nullarbor RH

52

33

1729

1081

86

54

21

Yalata RH

93

58

1822

1139

87

54

22

Nundroo RH

53

33

1875

1172

85

53

23

Penong

81

51

1956

1223

85

53

24

Ceduna

74

46

2030

1269

85

53

25

Wirrulla

94

59

2124

1328

85

53

26

Woodinna

124

78

2248

1405

86

54

27

Kimba

102

64

2350

1469

87

54

28

Iron Knob

92

58

2442

1526

87

55

29

Port Augusta

69

43

2511

1569

87

54

30

Wilmington

47

29

2558

1599

85

53

31

Peterborough

90

56

2648

1655

85

53

32

Yunta

89

56

2737

1711

86

53

33

Olary

83

52

2820

1763

85

53

34

Broken Hill

116

73

2936

1835

86

54

35

Hazel Vale

87

54

3023

1889

86

54

36

Wilcannia

117

73

3140

1963

87

55

37

Emmdale RH

103

64

3243

2027

88

55

38

Camp at Barnato

77

48

3320

2075

87

55

39

Cobar

86

54

3406

2129

87

55

40

Hermidale

89

56

3495

2184

87

55

41

Nyngan

50

31

3545

2216

86

54

42

Warren

82

51

3627

2267

86

54

43

Gilgandra

88

55

3715

2322

86

54

44

Tooraweenah

45

28

3760

2350

85

53

45

Coonabarabran

77

48

3837

2398

85

53

46

Mullaley

72

45

3909

2443

85

53

47

Tamworth

123

77

4032

2520

86

54

48

Bendemeer

39

24

4071

2544

85

53

49

Armidale

77

48

4148

2593

85

53

50

Guyra

37

23

4185

2616

84

52

51

Glen Innes

63

39

4248

2655

83

52

52

Tenterfield

95

59

4343

2714

84

52

53

Stanthorpe

61

38

4404

2753

83

52

54

Warwick

64

40

4468

2793

83

52

55

Toowoomba

81

51

4549

2843

83

52

56

Ipswich

105

66

4654

2909

83

52

57

Brisbane(Pacific Ocean)

63

39

4717

2948

83

52

Rest Day Rides

185

116

4902

3064

 

Distances and Times of the Round-the-World Journey

Country

Days

Days Cycling

Miles

Average

Singapore

4

2

60

30

Australia

88

65

3440

53

New Zealand

160

108

4625

43

Fiji

7

6

300

50

USA

82

65

3645

56

         

Totals

341

246

12070

49

         

Coast to Coast

       

Australia

68

56

2948

52

USA

60

52

3000

58

No time was lost through illness; Xmas and the New Year consumed a 7-day break in New Zealand and stormy weather kept us indoors for 4 days in total. Otherwise, non-cycling days were used for sight-seeing, maintenance, writing, repairs, cleaning, reading, shopping, planning ahead, telephoning, crosswords, listening to the BBC World Service on our short-wave radio, etc.