Friday, October 12, 2007

DAY 7: Bush camp to Nannup

44km @ 13.7 km/hr
After my traumatic night I awoke at 0630 and got packing right away - not wanting to hang around to be available for more unagreed blood donations. Soon after I got started the gently rolling terrain turned a bit nastier with steeper drops and climbs - mostly 'jump-ups' (where the road drops to cross a river and then climbs steeply up again). Some of these were up to 1 km in length and some must have been 20% slope.
I was feeling a little empty due to having had no breakfast but asured myself that Nannup - and a huge breakfast - was not far away. Well, the hills became more frequent and steeper and it seemed to be taking ages - which it was. Down to 13.5 km/hr average again. There were only about 3 houses between the bush camp and Nannup, so it really is remote, more so than anywhere in Scotland.
Today was nice and sunny but pretty hot too, and I was relieved to roll into, well, labour up a last 2 km hill to, Nannup. I was pretty tired and went straight to one of about 6 cafes in town (althougfh it is only a small place). Nannup is real cosy 'old' Australia. None of your modern town centre developments here, it's old and charming. I plonked down at the cafe and ordered a mega-breakfast to put back the 1000 calorie deficit from this mornings efforts. I got chatting to a lawyer and his wife from Perth who were here for a few days break - I am struck by how friendly the Australians are - when you meet someone new they invariably ask what I am doing and where I'm going, and they are very easy conversationalists. That's nice when travelling alone, in fact I reckon you get more of this when alone, a couple may not appear to be quite as accessible.
TH caravan park is just opposite and looks very cosy - hopefully a good sleep tonight.
It was only noon so I could catch up on housekeeping - throwing some stuff away that I did not need; laundry (unfortunately I put soap powder in the drier, put the money in and switched it on before I recognised it's true identity and had to go and beg a wet cloth to clean it up); bought half a bottle of wine for tonight (my first in Oz this time) and got to the Telecentre to type this up. I had in fact typed most of yesterdays post up in the tent last night so just had to upload from the SD card in the PDA.
I have photos to post but for some reason Blogger is not allowing me to upload grrr!

DAY 6: Margaret River to bush camp 40 km W of Nannup

74 km @ 18.8 km/hr
A little overcast, light tailwind
Didn’t get a lot of sleep last night due to some late revellers, and then around 0530 our Australian feathered friends started their pre-dawn chorus. Some weird and wonderful sounds there were too, the only one I recognised being the Kookaburra. Around 6 I stuck my top half out of the tent and made a cup of tea, lying back very cosily listening to the ornithological concert. I had guests too, Mrs and Miss Pigeon, who came right up to my door to check what was on offer. Not a lot I’m afraid - I declined to share my meagre ration of bread and jam. The young one was left alone at my tent flap as in Dickensian begging child.
I had a good sort out of the panniers, collected my key deposit and hit the road about 6 kg heavier than yesterday due to an extra 4 litres of water (I will probably wild camp tonight) and 2 kg food. Even so, with the flat road and slight tailwind I was going faster. Highway 10 south from Margaret River was not very busy and although there is no tarmac verge the cinder verge is flat and sound, and I took to it when I heard the odd lorry approaching.
After 30 km I stopped for a snack at Karridale before the road to Nannup turns sharp left. A sign at the start of this next section says ‘No services for 76 km’ but that isn’t quite true - there’s a nice little village store / tearoom after 15 km at Nullup (see pic) where I partook of cold orange juice and large Snicker.
From this point what was vineyard / farming country became natural forest (Sclerophyll forest I think) with no habitation whatsoever - at last some of the real Australia. Parrots flew about in small groups again - I think I recognised the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo with it’s 600mm (2 foot) wingspan. The road was very quiet with only 30 or so cars an hour, and I felt much more relaxed than on the busier roads west. This was by far my most enjoyable day thus far.
I crossed the wide murky waters of the Blackwood River and the pleasure continued - scores of varieties of wild flowers following the recent rain, and noisy birds criss-crossing overhead. At other quiter moments all I could hear was the whir of the Rohloff hub gears.
After a days total of around 70 easy km with about another 40 km to Nannup I spotted a disused track off to my left and sure enough it looked good for a bush camping location at about 400 metres away from the road.
I pitched the tent in a flat area surrounded by trees after clearing the ground of any sharp twigs and as the sun had been shining for the past half hour immediately set up the solar panels to charge up some batteries. It had been mostly overcast previous to this in the low 20’s. As it was only around 1400 I did some maintenance on the bike then made a cuppa, but the mozzies wanted to share with me and as I wouldn’t, took a piece of me instead.
It was dark by 1900 and as quiet as the grave - not a single sound and not a chink of light entered my little world. A bit creepy really, but I'll be doing quite a bit of wild camping so will have to get used to it.
By 2000 I was scratching as if I wasa covered in fleas - mosquito bites. I was pretty surprised as I'd been well covered knowing they were around, and it's obvious that they were biting me through my clothing, probably when I was stooping to check the bike over and when sat down to eat - the bites seemes to be mostly on the feet and at the knees but everywhere really. This led to a hellish night with no sleep, just maddening itchiness that wouldn't go away. I did eventually get a couple of hours after about 0400 though - what a contrast to my really enjoyable day. That's just life on tour. I need to be more careful (I'll get mozzie spray tomorrow) because some areas here have Dengue Yellow fever from mozzie bites.