Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Childhood Wish Come True

Cycling in the Clare Valley in South Australia Trevor and I got into a heated argument because he doesn’t like how much I move around on the bike and I don’t like that he tailgates me.  We eventually resolved this by setting up a new regime where Trevor zooms off and meets me many kilometers down the road.  That way he can go at his insane speed and I can take my time enjoying the scenery around me and not worrying about him right behind me.  Not sure why we didn’t do this earlier.  It is also nice in that we aren’t around each other 24/7.  One can only be around someone for so long in a day.  To note, we don’t have many intense fights but there have been a few en route.  Most of the time it is more me dishing out at him as I get annoyed rather quickly at many things like the strong winds in my face and just constantly take it out on the closest person around me which happens to be Trevor. 

In Adelaide we scoured the city trying to find a bare rim so I could replace my cracked one.  I noticed it had a crack whilst on the Nullarbor and worried about it a lot.  Luckily I made it to Adelaide without any disaster.  Unfortunately no place sold bare rims so I had to buy a whole new wheel.  Cost a lot but I feel confident that this wheel will manage the rest of the way. 

As usual, the weather is never in our favour.  In South Australia we had temperatures of 40+ degrees Celsius and the winds were mental, strong and in my face.  The unpredictable winds continued into Victoria.  It won’t stop and I have learned to accept this but I will still keep getting pissed and perturbed.  The wind though is finally getting to Trevor as well.  About time.

Had a bit of a scare one evening in the bush when I was cooking pasta on my excellent Trangria stove.  Some flames acted up due to the stupid wind and caught some grass leaves and then started to spread quickly.  I instantly distinguished the flames with water but it sure showed me how fast fire can spread in this dry and windy climate.  I am extra careful now when cooking.    

We just spent the last few days in Melbourne exploring around town and doing the Australian wave.  That is, waving away the flies that constantly pester us.  Much like the wind, flies are something we have had to deal with a whole lot throughout Australia.  I guess they are at their worst in the summer months here.  Trevor absolutely hates flies with a passion.  So much, he wants to go into genetics to figure out a way to decimate their population. 

We are now leaving a rainy Melbourne and are heading for Sydney.  

Stopping to admire these glass balls on Rundle Street in Adelaide.

Doesn’t happen very often.  In fact, I think only twice thus far on this trip, the other time being in Uzbekistan.  What’s that you ask?  A day where I am faster and stronger than Trevor on the bike.  This was in the Adelaide Hills after climbing some steep ass hills.  It wasn’t fun especially on the narrow road we had to go on.  Luckily there were blackberry bushes and apple trees in the area.  Huge!  The apples were quite nice actually and the blackberries were sweet.  Who needs to spend $5 at the supermarket when you can just freely pick them yourself? 

Trevor taking a dip in the Southern Ocean near Beachport.  In hindsight I probably should have had a dunk myself but didn’t.  The days are hot and cooling down in the ocean is always a treat. 

The Blue Lake in Mt Gambier.  Kind of reminds me of Crater Lake in Oregon.

The start of the Great Ocean Road.  Most people start at the other end as they are traveling from Melbourne.  Nice for us as less vehicles passed us as opposed to the other side of the road. 

Many interesting rock formations to see along the Great Ocean Road.  Trevor went to the first one here being the Bay of Islands and decided that was enough for him and happily skipped the rest.  He said to me they all look the same.  Each to their own but I made the effort to check them all out. 

The Grotto but unfortunately not Hef’s………………………………… bad joke I know but that is what I am about.  It is who I am.   

The 12 Apostles on a gloomy day.  Shame the weather wasn’t great on the days we cycled the Great Ocean Road.  We were actually cold a lot of the time as it rained quite a bit. 

An Echidna!  Kind of reminds me of a hedgehog or porcupine.

When I was a boy my mom got me this glossy photo book of koalas and they became one of my favourite animals.  Twenty plus years later I finally see the real deal!  This was very exciting for me.  We ventured off the Great Ocean Road towards Cape Otway Lighthouse and then cycled through the many eucalyptus trees.  I looked up and it didn’t take long before I began seeing little fur balls perched way up in the trees.  They all of a sudden exploded and were everywhere.  It was very neat to watch them even though most of them were just sitting there not doing much at all but sleep. 

I even saw a koala fight!  These two had a row over territory.  The koala biting won the battle fairly quickly and thus stole the spot from the other one. 

Question: What do these sheep have in common with both Trevor and me?  If you said all are in need of a haircut you would be correct! 

The latter half of the Great Ocean Road was quite nice being snug against the coast.  Even better was that there were many blackberry bushes along the way.  It is such a great time when you can stop every so often and pick blackberries on the spot.  Great Ocean Road gets brownie points for that.    

Having a read of the history behind the Great Ocean Road.  This was also the end of it for us.  

Pretty neat when we saw our first Aldi in Victoria.  It was like we were in Germany.  The store layout is exactly like it is in Europe.  Prices aren’t quite the same though but Aldi is now our go to supermarket.  Trevor pictured is trying to enjoy his ice cream in peace but the flies are annoying him yet again.  As a result, he has turned into a lean, mean fly slapping machine.  He takes joy in all his kills. 

Another game of where’s Trevor.  The setting: Federation Square, Melbourne.  Game on… 

The first night in Melbourne there was this White Night going on.  It was pretty cool with lots of entertainment and crazy lights going on all around the central business district.  So many people flooded the streets. 

The Melbourne skyline.  Lots of sports played here.  In the right is the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground and the white building center left is the Rod Laver Arena where the Australian Open is played.  

Big thanks to my friend Simon for letting us crash at his place in Melbourne and to his parents for putting us up for a night at their beach house in Pt. Lonsdale.  Always great to have a place to stay every now and then to rest up the legs and store the bikes so we can freely explore around on foot.

Last night Simon drove us around the Melbourne Grand Prix track at night.  So this morning before leaving we cycled some of the course by day.  Should be neat now watching it as I will know exactly where the race cars are in the city. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


Happy to say the Nullarbor is done because on the whole, it was a complete bore.  I was particularly annoyed most days as the wind was around the clock in my face full on.  It never quit.  Headwind, headwind and more headwind.  It wasn’t fun and this stretch reminded me of the desert crossing in Turkmenistan. 

If you want to know what it felt like crossing the Nullarbor just park yourself in front of three or four fans and turn them all on full blast.  That is more or less what we had to contest with.  Right from the get go when we woke up straight into the night.  Even when setting up and packing away our camping gear the wind was super annoying blowing everything away.  I was yelling at it pretty much every day for a good few hours.  If you passed me on the road I probably looked like a crazy person just yelling at no one.  Trevor can tolerate wind better than me.  He never got pissed but got pissed at me for getting pissed at the wind. 

It took about 10 days to cross the Nullarbor from Norseman to Ceduna covering about 1200km in the process.  If the wind wasn’t mental in our face every day we probably could have done this much quicker.  But of course the wind enjoys toying with me.  I feel whatever direction I am going the wind gods that be will go out of their way to throw strong winds my way.  Then laugh at me while I get annoyed. 

The scenery was rather dull as one would expect.  Just a lot of bush.  One section called the Nullarbor Plain was treeless. 

We met lots of friendly people en route and a couple of them gave us their fruit as one cannot bring fruit over the state borders.  So we gobbled up the free handouts on the spot. 

After finishing up the Nullarbor in Ceduna it actually got even more boring as the terrain was just wheat fields all around.  We passed through small towns that looked like ghost towns from the early 20th century. 

We are now heading south towards Adelaide and are just outside a town called Wilmington.  Looking forward to the latter half of Australia.  Just hope that the wind will calm the fudge down from here on and stay out of my face.  Unfortunately I am not that optimistic. 

Leaving Esperance I was fully stocked to the max with many bags of oats and muslei, canned spaghetti and pasta.  This is what I ate for about 2 weeks straight.  Had some difficulty early on packing everything.  I managed in the end but it felt like I was driving a tank. 

A dried up salt lake.

One thing the Outback provides is great photo opportunities for sunsets and sunrises.  

The start of the 90 mile.  I had plenty of podcasts to listen to so it wasn’t that bad.  But it could have been a lot better if the wind cooperated. 

A roo.  We saw many and I learned on one of my podcasts that kangaroos provide one of the most environmentally friendly meats as they don’t emit much methane like cows.  I would be keen to try some roo meat if the opportunity presents itself.

Enter South Australia.  Nice start but that soon wore off as the shoulder disappeared and the rest areas weren’t all that great compared to Western Australia.  Definitely like Western Australia better.  

The Bunda Cliffs. 

Dying of dehydration.  Really frustrating with the water situation on the Nullarbor as we couldn’t always rely on every roadhouse or water tank to provide water.  This particular day was the worst as the heat increased big time and we had to cover about 180km without any place to top up on water.  I was completely drained and had to lie down as I wasn’t hydrated.  I went through about 7 litres or so that day.  Cannot emphasize enough how important water is, especially in the driest state in the driest country in the world.  The following day I barely made it to the Nullarbor roadhouse.    

Pretty hardcore to cross the Nullarbor on this bike I must say.  Respect.  

Bandito Trevor.  He has been having problems with his lip as it stings like crazy in the sun.  So he is resorting to this look right now.

Trevor in Ceduna downing some vanilla custard.  It had been almost 2 weeks since we stocked up in Esperance so it was really nice to go in a supermarket once again even though it was Foodland and not a Coles or Woolworths.  Unfortunately I was off my game and missed a number of reduced dairy items and dropped my blackberry jam outside.  Perhaps all the excitement of being at a supermarket got to me.

Had a few kangaroos jump out in front of us on one occasion but they probably should post more cautionary emu signs.  Those birds go crazy when they see us coming and really book it.  Just these past few days I saw a few sprint and crash right into these barb wire fences.  I felt a bit bad when I saw them do this as we of course mean no harm. 

Well said.

And well named.

Getting there slowly but surely...

The most dangerous thing we have to deal with are road trains.  Really have to be careful when they zoom by as you sometimes get a wind rush and get tossed around.  Not fun.  This huge piece of machinery pictured has to be the largest we have seen transported thus far.  As you can see it took up both lanes so I took a breather on the side while it went on through.  Many heavy duty mining equipment is transported back and forth. 

We made it to Port Augusta today and went to our first Coles since Albany many, many kilometres ago.  So there was reason to celebrate.  As such, I splurged and went for the Tim Tam slam.  Grant introduced us to this back in Perth and it is genius.  Get some Tim Tams and a drink of your choice.  Milk is always a good option.  Bite off a bit from opposite ends and then use it as a straw in your selected beverage.  It tastes really good.  Who would have thought using your chocolate biscuit as a straw… genius I say.  Genius.  I now want to experiment with Twix and Aero bars as we don’t have Tim Tams back home.  Argh.  

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