Monday, September 01, 2008

DAY 309: Dongara to bush camp 9km S of Leeman

Thurs 28th August 2008
95km @ 15.1 km hr
Cloudy, 24 deg C
Elevation of /destination 18m
Distance to date 19048 km (11905 miles)

I was up and about early and packed everything up prior to breakfast, and I made good use of the toaster and electric kettle for a nice change. I've particularly missed my toast whilst camping - the 'gas stove toaster' I bought from a camping shop doesn't do a very good job. Away at 0830 onto the 11km link road from Port Denison to the Brand Highway southbound - this cuts out the need to go back through Dongara and saves a few km, not to mention that it’s much less busy than the highway. This road passes through a dune system and rises and falls with the dunes; the vegetation is coastal scrub; pretty dense stuff it is too.
Once onto the Brand Highway (Highway 1) the traffic was a good bit less than yesterday thankfully, and I also had a NE tailwind, however this didn’t last more than an hour when it swung 180 degrees around to SW i.e. a headwind! The highway is reasonably flat with long straights at first, then more bends later on.
After about 30km on the highway I took the right turn onto the Jurien Bay coastal road, which was pretty quiet as expected. This road winds almost continually and is somewhat monotonous, every bend opens up to reveal an almost identical stretch of road as before, and the dense vegetation / scrub changes little. There are a few short tracks leading to the shore during the first 30km, where the endless beach is covered in rotting seaweed, much like the stuff that gets washed up in Caithness. I was going to stop for lunch at one of these spots, but as it was a little early I carried on, and of course there were no more, and I ploughed on for quite a while without finding a decent place. I finally gave up looking, being desperate for food and drink, and just made do with sitting at the roadside with the bike leaning against a pole. It was very hot just there as it was out of the wind, so I didn’t stay too long. I did feel better for the break though, and had more energy to cope with the freshening W/SW wind. In stretches where there was no shelter things went very slowly indeed.
Eventually I reached Leeman (it’s 56km from the junction with the highway) and tarried a while. Just a little while mind, since there’s nothing particularly beautiful about the village; it has a ‘seen better days’ look about it. I was pretty impressed though with the long straight line of old gum trees lining the road through the place for about 3 or 4 km - whoever’s idea it was to do such things deserves a medal; it looks so good 50 years or whatever later and adds a wee touch of class to a reather mundane place.
After iced coffee I sodiered on into the wind, intending to stop within the hour when I found a decent bush camp. There are signs all over the place around here saying ‘No Camping’ - God knows why, because there’s hundreds of square km of empty bush out here between the road and the coast, and it's not NP. By the way this coastal road mostly runs no more than 1 or 2km from the sandy shore.
Around 1630 I went down a track leading to the coast and found a wooden viewing platform raised some 20m above the sea - a great vantage point - and apart from the wind not a bad place to camp. I decided to hang around here until nearer dusk to see if anyone else turned up. As expected not a soul was seen, borne out by ther lack of footprints around here. It’s a shame if it’s not used, because it’s a lovely spot, affording panoramic views of the coast for a long way north and south. Oh well, I’ll make good use of it then. I didn’t unpack everything from the bike, but just got out the food and cooking gear and got dinner done. I ate watching another great sunset over the sea directly in front of me, but then as it got colder I set up the Thermarest mattress on the bench seat, and got in the sleeping bag for warmth whilst typing this up. I don’t know whether or not to set up the tent on the platform or not - I’m sure I’d be warm enough in the sleeping bag fully clothed, it’s just that rain is forecast and there are a few black clouds scudding around. Mmmmm, decisions.....What a great view from my personal vantage point though...

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