Thursday, March 01, 2007

Wish lists and need-to's....

Progess in planning the trip is going well. I have devised an Excel spreadsheet with a 'wish list' in the first column i.e. everything I might need and more, and expanded notes in the 2nd and 3rd - noting what is available, cost etc. It's a good way to keep on track with planning and hopefully I won't forget anything and will have forseen most problems. It's pretty important in view of the extreme conditions I'll be exposed to at times - for example I decided a good-quality water filter is essential once in the dry-season Outback, and luckily I found a Katadyn water filter at Graham Tyso's in Inverness that was reduced from £125 to £50! It has three levels of filtering including coarse screen, fine ceramic filter, and charcoal final stage. So withn the spreadsheet I can just go to the computer for an hour or so at a time and focus on one of the topics listed. The list is growing all the time as I read accounts of other similar expeditions, and discover new opportunites (and pitfalls!). I've just begun a book about a couple's ride around Oz; actually a similar route to the one I'm planning and starting around the same time of year, and it's proving very useful - things like excellent campsites (both commercial and wild); poor roads etc....

I've bought a new camera, a Canon with 6x telephoto and good macro capability for those essential pics which will eventually adorn this blog. Australia is nothing if not conducive to good photography what with the brightness and wide range of colours.

One thing that comes across in the blogs and books I've read is the friendliness and curiosity of people I could meet along the way. This will be a bonus as I will be travelling alone, unless I meet up with another intrepid cyclist along the way for a while. I don't mind doing this alone though - a friend of mine insists that 'things happen' when there's one of you. The peace and solitude of the outback is something I am particularly looking forward to, and something that almost every blogger comments about.

It's not all easy though. I must be pretty strongly driven to take this years' tour on, in view of the possible impact on my 'normal' life. I have a partner, Lyn, who I will miss a lot, although I will be seeing her when she flies out to Oz in December - she is hoping to spend Christmas with her son, who lives in Brisbane, and join me for new year in Sydney. I still have to juggle the timing of this reunion with ideas of also touring Tasmaina and/or New Zealand. Thereafter we will be apart for some 8 or 9 months and I don't know how this is going to turn out in the long term. When I first raised the idea of this big trip Lyn initially declared that she was coming too, however when reality kicked in she felt she wouldn't enjoy it. I think she was also afraid that she would spoil it for me, which is unselfish of her.
I also will have to part with my dog, Prince, a Black Labrador, which will also be a wrench. I hope to find someone good enough to look after him for a year and then hand him back to me - a tall order really - I might have to relinquish him permanently.

What else? - I've accumulated lots of maps and guides to Oz but clearly can't take them all with me. I will arrange for Lyn to post things out to me occasionally, and I'll send things back too.

I haven't booked my air ticket yet. I have done quite a bit of research though - one problem was that whilst I can book the outward flight to Perth in October as part of a cheap return (approx £650) one can't specify a return date since the airline website doesn't allow dates beyond 11 months from date of booking i.e. at the mo I can't book a return for after Jan 2008. Also, I am not sure yet which date I will return on if I decide to go around quicker or more slowly. I eventually found (at least as far as Emirates is concerned) that I can in fact book using the latest return date possible at the time (e.g. Jan 27 2008) and then rebook the return flight prior to that date without penalty, so that seems to open up the way to book in the next few weeks. One has to carefully examine all the conditions attached to every ticket to make sure it's what is required.

More later on....