Saturday, August 23, 2008

DAY 303: Day 3 off in Kalbarri

Fri 22nd August 2008
Cloudy, sunny later, 23 deg C
Elevation of /destination 5m
Distance to date 18687 km (11679 miles)

After a solid 9 hours sleep again I headed off to the surgery but had to make an appointment for 1230. On returning in good time I still had to wait until 1330 to see the doctor. He went through various questions that seemed irrelevant to me, such as how many children I had, and how many marriages!? Don’t know what all that was about but on finally getting to the gist of the problem it was clear that I needed another course of the same tabs that I was prescribed in Broome. While waiting for the pharmacist to make this up the surgery phoned to ask me to return and to pay the doctor’s fee. Pay? I’d thought that I could get treatment free under the reciprocal health care agreement between Australia and the UK, but apparently not. I hadn’t had to pay before when reporting to the Emergency departments of hospitals, but this, apparently, is different. I had to pay $60 (£30), which I wasn’t too chuffed about. If I’d known this I would have waited until Geraldton where there’s a hospital. Maybe I can claim it back via my travel insurance.
Later on I went around to Ashley’s for the barbie, and met his wife Tracey and sons Josh and Alec. Ashley is a bit of a character and very entertaining, with his gross and vociferous dislike of anything involving lycra or carbon fibre (he is very much a ‘traditionalist’ when it comes to bicycles), and we had a good old time with the chat and the Guinness. I mentioned that my brake blocks were worn out, which was cue for Ashley to jump up and fit 2 new pairs - one of which I would pay for but the second, good, recycled pair were free, and free labour thrown in - what a guy! He even trued the front wheel a bit to stop some rubbing, while I was attacked by mozzies lol. He’s heavily into supporting touring cyclists so anyone planning to pass this way should definitely get in touch - he can offer advice and help and even a roof over your head for a couple of nights if you ask him nicely. He can be contacted via the Bicyclewa website (
When I got back to the hostel a group were watching some mindless banale programme so I wasn’t able to tune into the Olympics again; oh well, there you go, each to his own. So an early night.

DAY 302: Day 2 off in Kalbarri

Thurs 21st August 2008
20km @ 12.0 km/hr
Cloudy, 21 deg C
Elevation of /destination 5m
Distance to date 18687 km (11679 miles)

I slept very well last night, possibly better for having fitted foam earplugs that John had given me (because he thought he snored and would keep us awake!). I hadn’t really been aware of the snoring but the floorboards creak a lot when anyone walks around.
At 1000 myself and a few others who had hired bikes from the hostel got them loaded up into a trailer behind the minibus that dropped us 17km south along the coast road. From here the idea is to cycle back taking in the viewpoints along the coast back to Kalbarri. Unfortunately it was extremely windy and the ride was quite unpleasant; of the 7 or 8 viewpoints I only looked at 2 or 3 of them, since one has to descend 1 or 2km to the coast each time only to have to battle back onto the road against the strong E wind again. To be honest I wasn’t that impressed with the viewpoint scenery; maybe I’m spoilt after seeing the Karijini gorges and other places but these today weren’t anything special in my opinion. I was glad though that I wasn’t riding on today, and was spared over-exposure to the horrible winds. It wasn’t too warm either and I was glad to get back and get warm.
I planned to have a nice sandwich somewhere so tried 3 different cafes with no success. At the first there was a bad-tempered and screaming toddler whose mother was doing nothing to control him; at the second, an ‘organic’ cafe, the menu outside advertised home-made rolls, but when I ordered it turned out that no rolls were made today since it was ‘quiet’ and there was only sliced bread. The third place looked OK but the price of a chicken and avacado sandwich was a whopping $18, and I begrudge paying that much I’m afraid, consequently I went back ‘home’ for toasted fruit loaf and coffee! The upside of lack of choice here is the fact that it’s very quiet - I guess I’ve now moved into the WA winter, and holidaymakers are heading for the warmer climes of Broome and Exmouth i.e. several 100km north. I like quiet!
Next task was the Kalbarri health centre and checking out my gastric problems, but there was no doctor there today (it is a very small place really), but I found out there will be one there tomorrow. Then I tried to buy an inner tube since I’m low on spares, and I was directed to a guy called Ashley who repairs bicycles and sells spares. I got my tube, plus a free ‘recycled’ one to go with it, plus a lot of chat and good advice from Ashley (nickname ‘Crank’ lol) about all things bicycle-related. I had a chance to examine his Bob trailer, and was quite impressed with them. Others had advised me to choose that option instead of panniers, and I have to agree they are pretty impressive. I can see that in terms of wind resistance and stability they score highly, and if I do any more tours I may choose this option after testing one out. Ashley said I could have stayed there, but I’ve already booked the hostel until Saturday morning. Anyway I accepted his invitation to a barbie tomorrow afternoon, which I look forward to. I still haven’t heard whether the flight to Monkey Mia is on or not for tomorrow (they need 4 to go ahead).
The 2 tubes I got from Ashley were good, heavy thorn-resistant types and I decided to fit them straight away to deter future punctures, and I’m glad I did, because I found a thorn embedded in the rear tyre and protruding through to the inside - by some miracle it hadn’t entered the tube. Later on I watched a bit more of the Olympics, but the coverage here is not as good as in the UK - mostly, only events where Australians have a chance are shown, and they are not doing as well as usual.
Lack of pics is due to my camera being set wrongly - the switch must have moved and they are all too bright so no pics tomorrow either.

DAY 301: Day 1 off in Kalbarri

Weds 20th August 2008
Sunny intervals / cloudy 25 deg C
Elevation of /destination 5m
Distance to date 18667 km (11667 miles)

It felt unfamiliar sharing a room with others but I slept reasonably well nevertheless. After leisurely breakfast watching the Olympics highlights and chatting I got on with maintainance tasks such as washing and other mundane but essential stuff.
I did very little today actually, a real chill-out day, and thoroughly enjoyed it too. I did rouse myself to go for a stroll along the beach in the afternoon, before doing a little grocery shopping at IGA. I enjoyed the friendliness of the hostel; people coming and going and chatting about experiences. I cooked for myself in the hostel and had a couple of beers and a little wine - nothing more to report!