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Published: December 5th 2010
Taking our time
We spent a few days in Bunbury, it is a very comfortable city and is easy to waste time in, we visited the Dolphin Experience where the only dolphin we experienced was swimming away from us out of the bay, the Mash Brewery whose beers would be so much better if they were served a few degrees above absolute zero and the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery where there was an exhibition of local schoolkids' artwork, Dali-esque and fantasy graphic novel appear to be this year's themes, however there were a few pieces we liked, most of them made out of nuts, bolts and anything else found on the shed floor. We also visited both the lookout points for views across the city and surrounding area and spent a lot of time getting pummelled by the waves at Back Beach, the "safe" swimming beach.
We had a long discussion about our mode of transport, we are a lot slower than we would be on solos and both of us have aches and pains from the different positioning compared to our solo bikes. These are things we can sort out to an extent and we agreed that we need
to give it a lot more time, however if either of us is not happy by the time we reach Sydney the tandem will go home and we will continue with our solos.
On the 18th we set off towards Busselton, starting on the Bussel Highway which is a dual carriage way with a wide shoulder for most of the way, so we effectively had our own lane for a large part of the ride. We turned off the highway to take the scenic route through the Tuart Forest, stopping occasionally to take in the views (of trees), drink water and eat jelly beans - vital cyclist fuel supply! We turned onto the coast road and picked up the cooling sea breeze for the first time today, unfortunately it was a head wind so our progress slowed somewhat.
As we entered the town a Ute slowed as it passed us and the driver yelled "Welcome to Bussleton" through the open window before driving away. How fantastic, we were expecting "Get outta the road" or similar, instead we got a welcome. In general Aussie drivers have been very careful around us, even the drivers of the big double rigs will
Free as a Cow
Sculpture at Cowaramup
pull as far across the road as they can to give us room and we get a lot of smiles and waves, it's very different to the UK
Having reached the town boundary we rode another 2km to the visitor centre where we arranged accommodation for two nights and a wine tour before riding a further 5-6km through town to Broadwater B&B. Bussleton is very long and narrow, stretching along the coast of Geographe Bay and is primarily made up of tourist resorts and holiday camps, it's main feature is it's 2km long timber jetty with an underwater observatory at the end, unfortunately the jetty is currently closed. We were welcomed at the B&B by Doreen and John who showed us around and pointed us towards their swimming pool which was a rather warm 32 degrees C, but very pleasant after a hot day in the saddle. Later John lent us a DVD called "Pillock Conquers the World" a film made in the 1970s about a group of men from Liphook who drove a Routemaster double decker bus around the world, it was very entertaining and another example of completely barking Brits abroad.
The following day started warm and
got rapidly hot, then hotter, good job we booked the wine tour today the only effort involved is walking from the bus to the winery and back. Our first stop was at Juniper Estate where we were welcomed by a very knowledgeable guy and some rather good wines. The second stop was at a biodynamic farm employing Rudolf Steiner's cultivation methods, the seller there wasn't as knowledgeable about his wines but was fairly entertaining until he started the traditional Aussie pastime of blaming "The English" (TM) for all his woes whilst glaring at us, I told him it was his ancestors not mine and anyway 200 years was long enough for him to get over it, his response of "Try telling that to the Jews" went down particularly well with the other two people on our tour - a German couple! Thankfully the next stop was lunch at the Bush Shack Brewery, cold buffet and free beer - splendid! In the afternoon we visited an olive farm selling all manner of olive oil cosmetics and toiletries which we didn't have room for in the panniers, two more wineries which were pretty mediocre and a chocolate factory whose products we did
find some space for.
We set out to Margaret River on the 20th; both John and Doreen had advised us not to ride the Caves Road from Busselton to Margaret River as it is narrow, rather winding and Schoolies Week had just started meaning there would be a lot of inexperienced drivers on unfamiliar roads, all trying to impress their mates/girlfriends. With John's help we plotted a new route through the farmland to the east of the main tourist areas, this also had the advantage of being a much flatter route than the one we were going to follow and was very quiet, the downside was that it was very open and we had a headwind called Bastard (that's Mr Bastard to you) all day. Lunch was at Cowaramup, where there is a large golden cow on a pole in the middle of the park, then we tried to follow the cycle route to Margaret River, after about 500 metres it turned into an off road gravel and sand track so we gave up and hooned down the Bussel Highway for the last 10km.
A large chunk of the next day was spent on a fruitless search for goat
milk. In Aus we can buy more varieties of cow's milk than I even knew existed, soy milk in a number of forms and also rice and oat milk (and just how does one milk a rice or an oat?), when we do find goat milk it is always UHT and imported from New Zealand. Unfortunately we were right out of luck, so decided to try rice milk which was so nice it took about a week to drink the litre that we bought, black tea never tasted so good. Vernon very sensibly got bored of this charade and wandered away to fettle the tandem, changing the tyres to 1.6", we were running 2" but decided to put the spares on to see if we could move a bit faster on the narrower tyres, adjusting the brakes and discovering that we've lost a bit of the rear disk brake but apparently it's "not important" so that's OK then!
On the 22nd we were heading south again, firstly we took a short side trip east to Prevelly, where the Margaret River reaches the sea, the area was recommended to us as beautiful and a must see location, it was wet
and windy when we got there so we huddled in a cafe and had a second breakfast before heading to the Caves Road which is much quieter and safer south of Margaret River and it runs through the Karri forests so we were sheltered from the wind. The road was a bit of a roller coaster and we stopped at Lake Cave for a late lunch and a breather, then joined a guided tour of the cave and decided to camp at the Conto Field Campground just around the corner, this is a National Parks campground and has basic amenities (composting toilets, a basic kitchen and drinking water which "needs" boiling for 10 minutes) it also costs 14 Aus dollars per night so was the cheapest place we have stayed at yet. We were rewarded with close up views of a kangaroo and joey feeding in the early evening.
We woke with the dawn chorus the next day, parrots do not a gentle wake up call make! Breakfasted on porage made with rice milk (bleurgh), tea with rice milk (even more bleurgh) and black tea to take the taste away, packed up and set off south again riding through
tall stands of Karri as far as the eye could see. We were at a viewing point in the forest getting some photos when a group of four camper vans appeared and parked up, we were about to head off when one of the drivers approached us and asked if we could just ride around the corner then come back down the hill for them to take some photos of us, they were taking photos for a tourism southwest brochure for next year and had pictures of the caravans parked all over the place, a tandem would be a bit different. Odd request but no problem, we cycled back around the corner turned around and were just about to set off when another car pulled up and the driver got out to ask us about the tandem, we chatted for a couple of minutes then headed back down the hill just as the photographer had given up on us reappearing. We posed for a few more shots which the tandem was definitely the star of and then pedalled away to Boranup Gallery for coffee without rice milk - hurrah!
The road got hillier as we headed south and we resorted
to the 48" gear a few times but there was no further excitement until we became involved in a battle of attrition with a bloke on a mobility scooter on the way into Augusta, he overtook us going up each hill and we stormed past him on every downhill. The battle ended when we were diverted by the coffee-and-a-cake option at the Augusta Bakery.
We checked into the Augusta YHA for two nights and did a short ride to Cape Leeuwin on the 24th to see the lighthouse and play about with the tandem unladen on some rather short sharp hills. It was fun to just be silly on it for a while although we did have to use the 48" gear again on one hill and we got told we looked like The Goodies by an onlooker.
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