Sunday, September 07, 2008

DAY 318: Fremantle to Perth - THE END!!

Sat 6th September 2008
40km @ 14.2 km/hr
Sunny, 20 deg C
Elevation of destination 5m
Distance to date 19563 km (12227 miles)

Today I’m riding to the Perth City YHA, the place I started from on 6 October last year, so as to ‘complete’ the circuit of Australia.
My much looked-forward to 5 days slumming in Fremantle and Perth got off to a bad start last night though. Some youngsters who had rooms either side of mine got drunk, or drugged or whatever, and made lots of noise. To be honest the old hostel building can’t absorb sound very well and you can hear everything that’s going on, however these 4 made no attempt to tone it down, and the racket and lots of noisy pacing to and fro over the squeaky floor outside my door went on until dawn. I only finally fell asleep at around 5 after politely asking them to hush up twice, but to no avail. The room I’m in is pretty unpleasant when you weigh it up too. It’s only just big enough for a double bed yet the ceiling is very high, giving it an odd chlostrophobic feel. It’s the lack of sound insulation that’s the killer though, and I knew I couldn’t stay here another night, despite having paid 5 nights in advance. The kitchen is right underneath too, and I could hear people cooking and banging pans around into the middle of the night after getting in from the pub.
Assoon as the office opened at 8 I went to see the manageress, who was quite unsympathetic, despite me pointing out that there was no night manager here to sort things out, and no telephone no. that guests can ring if there’s trouble. However she agreed in the end not to penalise me by making me forfeit a second nights charges and I got credited for the 4 remaining nights. After all this I felt pretty washed out and deflated on my ‘last’ day of the tour, but a nice steady run along the river into Perth would settle me. Except the poor maps I have have deceived me, and as it turned out only the last few km of the 20km to the city are on proper bike paths.
But I’m ahead of myself. On escaping from Colditz I decided to try a caravan park 3km SE of Freo instead, and as it looked OK I booked in for tonight ($25). I set the tent up and then headed off to ride to Perth. The route around the north of the Swan River seemed more direct and I had to start off on the very busy Stirling Highway, which was awful. Twice I turned off the highway to try and pick up a riverside track but there wasn’t one, so I rode around 12km over some very steep hills all for nothing, having to get back onto the highway again, or rather on the highway pavement which was the only safeish place to be for a cyclist! It wasn’t fun at all, and it took me well over 2 hours to get to Perth. It should have been 25km from the caravan park to the city but I covered 40, and they were hard won. I was soooo glad to see the Swan River again and it’s prefectly-constructed cycleway havens.
I went straight up to Wellington Street and The City YHA Hostel, and leaned the bike up against the wall in the same place as at the start, remembering that it had actually fallen over with a bang that day before I’d even started. It would have been lovely to have been met by someone but of course no-one knew who the hell I was, so I had to ask a passer-by to take the photo, just as I had the first time lol. He did seem interested in my explanation as to what I’d been up to, but with a quizical gaze as much as to say “is this guy normal?”. Actually I’m happy to have that dubious quality questioned! What’s normal anyway?
I celebrated as planned with a good lunch - a delicious crab and prawn baguette and wicked Danish pastry and 2 large capuccinos, and then had a cycle-wander around the city, a kind of random lap of honour....
No way was I riding back to Freo - it was a 25 minute train journey instead, and I’ll be coming and going this way again tomorrow too. The tour is officially over; the obective succesfully completed; I have ridden all the way around Australia for 19563 km (12227 miles) without using any other means of transport (but with a great big thank you to my friend the SE wind, without which this would have been much harder.) I'm very greateful too for the hundreds of folk I have met over the year that have hosted me, given me food, or just words of encouragement. There are some very special people out there, and those whose e-mail address I have I will contact individually once home.
On my return to camp I had a very sociable evening in the kitchen with several other happy campers, and plenty of passionate discussion of the places in Oz that we liked best.