So I’ve actually done it. I stood at the edge of the cliff looked down into the uncertainty that lay before me, took my final breath and leaped off the edge.
What had I done? Well, the premise was simple: take my small little postie and ride it around the world. I mean you can sum in up into a 7-word sentence ‘Around The World On Seven Horse Power”. So the premise was simple but the application so far has had it’s hoops to jump through. But there I was actually committing to one of my cavalier ideas; which rarely become reality. But this time I worked to will my audacious scheme into reality.
Oh my goodness, what a reality it has been. I made a slightly late start from home on the Monday at some time around 11:00 am after having to run out and get a rubbish bicycle pump as my current one wouldn’t fit. I can’t say with much certainty as to what I felt upon my leaving, the restlessness I had experienced seemed as though it had subsided and my emotions felt rather muted during the lead-up. Maybe it was all just too surreal to cope with initially, but who knows the mind is a mystery.
Taking the coast road north of the city I was soon on my way when I stopped at a local supermarket to grab some last things I felt I needed. It was the last supermarket I would see for almost 1500kms to pick up some lip balm (which I used then and still haven’t used again since leaving.) and another 5-litre bladder of water (which I also haven’t used since.). The first person approached me outside the shopping center where I had illegally parked on the footpath to begin the first of what became a well routine encounter.
“Hey Mate, Is that a Postie Bike?”
“Sure is mate, ex-Australia Post.”
“She looks like she’s pretty loaded down mate, where ya’ going?”
“Around the world mate.”
“No, seriously. I’m riding to Darwin, shipping it to Timor and then it’s westward into the sunset”
“Well good luck, can I have a photo? My brother’s cats second uncle twice removed sister in law is a postie and he’d be right into it.”
“No worries mate, have a good one”
The script would soon become tired being played out on average two to three times a day with only some minor deviations. It became quickly became apparent that everyone was into the idea, thumbs up and horns from overtaking cars.
So I was out of the city onto the main conduit that would take me the point I would take my leave from Australia, The Great Northern Highway, slowly I watched the trees and hills turn into field of wheat and before I knew it red dirt and green bushes encircled me all the way until it melted into the horizon. I made to Wubin on the first day, or just out of. But filling up the fuel tank I had my side stand collapse breaking both of my mirrors, not good when my itinerary for the next few days primarily consisted of being overtaken by road trains. Leaving Wubin I made a small little camp out the back of a rest stop and quickly found myself dreaming after setting up camp.
I awoke early on the second day a good hour before sunrise to the lively chatter of the native birds; this was an alarm clock that was set to become the status quo. It didn’t take much deliberation to come to a conclusion that I would have no luck getting any more sleep so I decided to make an early start and began to pack up camp. Packing and unpacking soon became my most despised routine. What felt like an excruciating amount of time, I would endeavor to avoid at whatever costs necessary.
I still felt slightly disgruntled about the mirrors but I reminded myself that the damage was little and would be easily fixed when I could find the parts. I watched the scenery change rapidly and give way to the most striking array of contrasting colours. I soon passed a series of salt lakes with a bright pink hue to them. I was ever tempted to ride out onto. It took so willpower talking myself out of sinking into a selenic pink mush, assuring with a groundless certainty that one day I would reach Bonneville.
I made it to Payne’s Find before lunchtime and ran into a German gentleman who wished to take a photo of me after the second repeat of the aforementioned routine (This being said his postie relation was only his neighbour.) after paying an extortionate litre price for petrol I made tracks hoping to reach Meekatharra before nightfall. Along the road, I saw an odd looking shimmer at the end of what was yet another ferociously straight stretch of road as I enclosed the image eventually began to form the shape of a man on a bicycle going at a pace which would have been only slightly quicker than a brisk walk at best. Without any hesitation, I was pulled up on the side of the road eagerly awaiting him to catch up with me.
Wearing a flyscreen and a wide brim hat I could make out that he had seen many years, he looked like he would have been over 70. We had a brief discussion about each other about our respective journeys. His bicycle looked like something you might pull over from a dusty shed out the back of the deceased estate. It was an old Malvin Star from back in the 90s from what I could ascertain which was currently propelling him on a Lap around West Australia which he cheerfully stated he was doing for to quote “a bit of fun”. He told me that he was collecting the remaining water and fluid in the water bottles abandoned along the highway to keep himself going and spending 6 hours riding at night to avoid the heat. I have a large degree of respect for his resourcefulness a truly inspiring site.
I made camp a little out of Meekatharra and managed to make a small fire to warm up what was starting to become the all-familiar canned evening meal.
Made it to Newman by 2:30 after a solid 7 hours of riding, where I managed to get my hands onto a replacement for one of my mirrors, I then quickly made my way out of town towards Karinjini. I stopped at the foot of a mountain to set up camp for the night where I ran into my first instance of true kindness on the road.
Bill and Gale had also stopped for the night at the base of the mountain. A couple that is perpetually traveling around Australia. After I was returning from the mountain I had climbed behind the campsite approached me. Bill had been driving around Australia in his Ute for 5 years and Gail for an astonishing 11 years in her 30-year-old RV. They invited me for dinner where I had my first meal that wasn’t out of a can in 3 days and also shared with me some moonshine which Bill was making out of a still in the back of his ute and mixing with golden syrup. After dinner, I went to make a camp of luxury for my first sleep on a picnic table a trick I had picked up from the ZMM*.
I soon found myself inside Karaijini National park, only a short trip from my picnic table abode. After a very short glance at a map, I found myself hit a road with a sign that clearly stated in plain writing “4WD VEHICLES ONLY” after about 6 seconds of consideration I came to the conclusion that Atty would be fit for the task. Also, I came to see Gorges and Gorges I would see, 4wd track or not.
I am unsure if I can safely claim that my initial assumption that Atty would be fit for the task was correct. I was running road tires at this point at about 40 PSI and after the first couple of kilometers, the tracks intensity was dialed up to 100. Soon the dirt track gave way to unforgiving corrugations and loose rocks, which made my arms into an extension the bikes suspension and my rear end, have as much stability as a four-year-old on a WD40 covered slip and slide.
None the less I persevered with a voice in the back of my head that was growing louder and louder saying, “something’s going to break” to which I would softly reply “Just a little bit father”. Thankfully nothing broke and I didn’t come off, which may have been a small miracle that my cumulative experience on dirt was equivalent to one day, which I crashed 11 times, and a few unsealed roads.
I reached the final Gorge after about 40kms of the washboard anguish after biting off just about as much as I think I could chew. I was rewarded by running into a charming pair had been sailing their yacht around the world from New York for the past 11 years and had stopped in Australia to do an overland lap. They took this fantastic photograph of me (you can find their website here if you are interested in their amazing travels http://www.zeroxte.com/).
I made a quick run out to Tom Price for some supplies through a spectacular road, which weaved through rolling hills. I made it back to Karinjini before nightfall to once again sleep on a park bench.
I spent the next day seeing the remaining gorges, which were gorgeous (harr harr harr). I then made my way north towards Port Headland on which has been called the Highway from Hell. This stretch of road was a straight line that melted into the horizon and never seemed to end. This was made worse by the searing heat and lack of scenery. More so I was inundated with continuous 50-meter long road trains overtaking me spraying me with the loosely packed raw material they were hauling. The road trains were so massive I would get caught in their slipstream and have no choice but hit the brakes to get behind them, sketchy shit!
I can’t say I spent more than 15 minutes in Headland, it came across to me as a utilitarian place with the soul function of serving the behemoth West Australian mining industry. I made tracks towards Broome and ended up making a rough camp in a ditch next to the road.
That’s all I’ve got time, for now. Look out for the rest in part 2!
Love and Mercy,