On the road again, very slowly!

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November 15th 2010
Published: November 28th 2010
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We will get the hang of this thing. Perth-Bunbury (08/11/10 - 14/11/10)

Thankfully the juggernaut fits in the lift at the YHA, so we didn't have to lug it down three flights of stairs before we set off. Once loaded up we pushed to a quiet starting point mounted up and set off, only to stop immediately as the chain ring tried to eat the chain! Sorted that and tried again, this time we actually got moving but stopped again rather quickly due to front end shimmy causing a rather spectacular wobble which not only scared us but also made the motorists of Perth give us a very wide berth. That was sorted by re-packing the front panniers, then we finally escaped Perth via a wide, flat, quiet cycle path alongside the Swan River, this turned into a route through the hilly back streets of the suburbs before leading us back to a park high above the river where we were treated to spectacular views of the greater Perth area.
We found our way into Freo by some riding and some pushing and got a room at the YHA; less than 20 miles in total for the day but we figured there's no point knackering ourselves and we will get faster and further - eventually!
Not wishing to overdo things we decided to spend a day in Freo doing all the stuff we should have got around to doing while we were in Perth, so some money got changed, a couple of maps got bought and a short trip to the Little Creatures Brewery was made, after which very little else was achieved.
On 10th November we packed up to head south towards Rockingham, but not before an odd conversation with one of the other British YHA residents, it started with a question about the tandem and how we got something so heavy on a plane and culminated in her asking me what a Qantas was! I can't work out how somebody can get from Britain to Australia without having heard the name of the Australian national airline, particularly after the A380 incident of a week ago. Freo is an odd place but at least there weren't any pipers about this time.

We headed off under cloudy skies which very quickly turned to rain, with a side order of sea breeze blowing us sideways, all in all it was a miserable day's ride, Vernon was labouring with the weight of the machine and battling against the wind all day, I was just sat pedalling and getting wet. We were mainly on quiet back roads to start with, then just after Lake Coogee we found a cycle path through the bush which seemed to go in the right direction so we followed that for a few miles until we reached Henderson Road and a novel tandem trap, a narrow slalom to exit the cycle path, designed to keep motorcycles out and tandems in. we had to unload everything and carry the bike above our heads through the barriers to get onto the road. Thankfully just across the road from this fitness test was a little food stall where we found lunch and shelter as the rain got heavier, it eased off as we set out again, but quickly became torrential and remained so for the rest of the ride to Rockingham. We had been planning to camp tonight but on arrival at the Visitor Centre I squelched in, dripped on everything and asked for somewhere dry and warm. we were directed to the Safety Bay Guest House and cycled the 2 miles there in even heavier rain and a side wind that was approaching gale force. Harry greeted us warmly, helped us with our bags, showed us where to stow the tandem and supplied a large pile of towels which were put to good use as we finally got dry.
We had already decided to stay in Safety Bay for two nights and on the 11th we took the ferry to Penguin Island and spent a few hours wandering aimlessly, watching the gulls and the terns and visiting the caves to see the resident teenage sea lion, which was skulking about in it's cave with it's back to us, occasionally turning it's head to snarl at the gawping tourists. The island is home to a group of Little Penguins, sadly the only ones we saw were the captive ones at feeding time, all the wild ones were staying out of the very strong southerly which was threatening to blow us off the island.

The next day we spent a while getting the bike set up, sorting out slipping gears and the disk brake, before we loaded up and set off, I wasn't really feeling up for a ride today and wanted to just stop, I cheered up when we got to Secret Bay and stopped for a coffee and a cake. We continued south into a headwind and just past the Mandurah city boundary we got our first puncture - a pinch flat, we need to keep the tyres inflated more. Anyway, we unloaded everything, turned the bike over and set to on a repair, we were soon on our way again and shortly after we got to the Visitor Centre and were directed to Dawesville campsite, a further 5 miles down the road including a very steep downhill with a comedy footpath cycle route on it and an equally steep uphill which we cycled the first 5 metres of before getting off and pushing. We reached the site as it was getting dark, got the tent up and sorted food out before trying to sleep. the weather was against us as strong winds shook the tent and rattled the trees all night. After a disturbed night we set off for Bunbury, taking a detour to Lake Clifton to look at the thrombolites (living rocks), formed when microorganisms precipitate calcium carbonate as a by-product of photosynthesis (Google it for
Wander Inn BackpackersWander Inn BackpackersWander Inn Backpackers

Our temporary home in Bunbury.
a better explanation!).Sadly the winery next door to the lake was shut for a private function, so we got lunch at a bakery on the highway where we were advised to head to Binningup for the night, we were planning to stop at Preston Beach, but there is no camping there now as the site has been turned into a resort. We had our first "off" on the way, Vernon stopped at the junction to Binningup but failed to unclip his foot and fell over taking the bike, and me, with him. I got bitten by the chain ring and entertained the passing cars by trying to get off a bike that is lying on it's side while I was still attached to the pedals, we eventually got upright again and soon reached the campsite and sorted ourselves out for the evening.

On Sunday 14th we finally reached Bunbury after a fairly short day in the saddle; we left the campsite just after 10:00 and were cheered by a number of our fellow campers slowing as they drove past to wish us luck and encourage us on our way. We grabbed a coffee at Australind where we got chatting with a KIwi about our planned ride, she runs a B&B in New Zealand and has previously accommodated Heinz Stucke, so she knows her touring cyclists, we really are not worthy!
We reached Bunbury just after 15:00 and, after a short walk through the mangrove swamps, found the YHA; it was shut, not open again until 16:00. We retreated for coffee and returned refreshed to try again, they were full - BAH! We were directed to "the other backpackers" were we got a room, got changed and headed for the beach to throw ourselves into the sea, cold, but very refreshing.

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2nd December 2010

It's Snowing in Southsea!
Hi Clare & Vernon, we are enjoying your blog & photos lots - brings back memories from 7 years ago when we were in that neck of the woods travelling around with Lawrie in a camper van. I nearly strangled Lawrie over his navigating skills (or lack of them) whilst trying to negotiate the freeway out of Perth! Ah, the memories......The worst winds we experienced were are on the south coast in Esperance and Albany but fantastic coastline made up for it. Hope the Aussie summer improves for you very soon. Hey, we've got 6 inches of snow outside and temp is -4 deg.C! Gatwick is closed, most trains aren't running, schools are shut and people are buying up large quantities of bread and milk - the usual panic when a couple of snowflakes come our way! Apparently it's worst than the January snow (which we missed as we were in India). Had a brilliant snowball fight coming home from The Flo with Pip, Graham and Lawrie - when we got home we had white hair and snow in our coat pockets! I LOVE SNOW! Today I was feeling festive so I put the Christmas tree up.......well, it is the 2nd December......and we are off on our hols on 28th. Anyway, have a wonderful trip and look forward to your future blogs, Love Claire and Steve xx
3rd December 2010

We've got rain!
Hi folks, Southsea sounds great fun at the moment. It's raining here and has been for two days now - how sad is that? Love C & V

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