Sunday, January 8, 2012

Circumnavigation of Australia is complete!

Yesterday at noon I arrived back in Melbourne after riding my bicycle around Australia. A welcoming party greeted me as I rode to the Burke and Wills Cairn in Royal Park. (This cairn marks the place where Burke and Wills commenced their "successful but fatal" journey. And was chosen as a bit of silly fun. Not entirely in good taste.)

Map of the route
Everyone waiting patiently for my slightly late arrival

Release the hounds. Actually just Nick's dog Ned greeting me.

Parking at the Burke and Wills Cairn, retrieving Vic Market goodies (mostly wine).

There was cake!

There were camels! Possibly the first time since 1860 this cairn has seen camels.

Coming home from Maree BikeTourOz on Vimeo. Thanks to camera man Marc ()

The story so far...

On the 2nd of July 2010 I left Melbourne to ride around Victoria for three months. 

The first 1000. In Mallee Victoria.

I returned to Melbourne for a fortnight before leaving again on the 10th October 2010 to head east along the VIC coastline, up the east coast to Brisbane. (Early December I side-tripped to Canberra. I stayed in Newcastle for two weeks around Christmas and New Years).

I stayed in Brisbane for three months, waiting for the floods to ease and the Bruce Highway to stop closing every two days.

On the 5th of May 2011 I headed off again up the east coast, riding up to Cooktown via the Bloomfield Track, back to Cairns via the Mulligan Highway (inland) and along the Savannah Way (Gulf Development Rd) to Normanton and Kurumba. Next I rode the Matilda way down to Cloncurry and Mt Isa, riding to the NT border and up to Darwin, via Kakadu, by mid August.

From Darwin headed (via Litchfield) to Broome, then the big stretch between roadhouses (300 k between Roebuck and Sandfire) to Port Hedland. Down the west coast to Perth, Albany, Esperance. 

From Esperance headed up to Kalgoorlie, caught the Indian Pacific to Adelaide. Rode back via the Nullarbor. Caught a flight from Esperance to Adelaide. Rode on back to Melbourne.

Arrived in Melbourne on the 7th January 2012, 24050 km later.

Next up is a well-earned bike service followed by Tasmania for cycling, farm work and some hiking.

Some favourite places...

(In order of visiting)

The Mighty Murray River

The Murray flooded for the first time in over ten years when I visited it. It knocked down gum trees and forced emus to swim like giant ducks across what was National Park camping areas. My plan had been to ride along the dirt tracks next to the river, instead of the highway. This didn't eventuate because Murray Mud is not bicycle friendly in the least.

Sea Cliff Bridge

South of Sydney there is a road called Grand Pacific Drive which includes a road that overhangs the sea called Sea Cliff Bridge. Cyclists and pedestrians get a much better view than the car drivers as the shared path is on the eastern side of the road.

Savannah Way, Queensland: Cairns to Normanton, and up to Kurumba

This was my first experience of the outback on the bike. I loved the isolation, the early morning light, the wildlife, the long distances. I especially loved the sunsets and star-filled skies. This was also the first time I managed to ride over 100 kilometres in a day, riding a couple of 130 km days. That distance per day was soon to become the default.

Kakadu and Litchfield

Friends John and Yve drove me out to Ubirr one night I stayed at Kakadu NP where they have a spectacular sunset. This place just looks like another world. It is a paradise.

Ubirr, Kakadu NP

Ubirr, Kakadu NP

Ubirr, Kakadu NP

Litchfield National Park has similar vegetation to some parts of Kakadu National Park, and it has some stunning waterfalls and swimming holes.

Victoria River and Gregorys National Park

The Kimberley and the Pilbara

The Kimberleys and the Pilbara region are areas that have their own spirit. The colours you will see at dusk and dawn print themselves onto your soul and will never leave you. There is amazing wildlife, but its the colours that I can see when I close my eyes that really sum up these places, yet are hard to describe. Best you see them for yourself! 

Elliston, South Australia (on the Eyre Peninsula)

This place has an interesting little bite out of the coast and you can see some interesting cliffs and columns. It's a bit of a gem this place.

Bunda Cliffs and the Nullarbor Plain

More glorious isolation and see for miles roads. The Bunda Cliffs of the Great Australian Bight are amazing. Photos don't do it justice. I loved my camp in the Nullarbor Plain watching the sunset and sunrise. Not as much wildlife as you'll see in other places, surprisingly. Not as many lizards or snakes or wedgetail eagles from what I could tell. Plenty of vegetation changes over the trip from Ceduna to Norseman to keep it interesting. I went all out and rode 172 km one day and a 200 km day a few days later. It's good to know what you are capable of.

Esperance Great Ocean Drive and Cape Le Grand

Esperance has some stunning white-sand beaches and clear, bright blue water, and there is a bike path most of the way along the Great Ocean Drive.

Lucky Bay and Cape Le Grand Beach are also stunning with clean white sand. The surrounding national park is very scenic with mountains. Plenty of kangaroos live here and you can sometimes see them laying on the beach.

Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road in Victoria may be stunning by car, but by bicycle it is  spectacular. The thing with the Great Ocean Road is that the road winds its way up hills and around the coast line - this means if you're in a car you need to watch the road. On a bicycle you have much more time for taking in the sights that are all along the journey, not just where there are car parks. The hills aren't so bad if you've ridden up the east coast's hills. The Laver's Hill and Otways are reasonable tasks but if I can do it carrying 50 kg with no granny gears (worn out to the point of chain slippage), anyone can.

A big thanks to...

My mum for driving me nuts ringing me all the time to check I was still alive.

My support team in Melbourne... Tony sending through my spare parts and Cassy, Peta and Luke for letting me surf their couches, and bon voyaging and welcome homing.

All the people who put me up (and put up with me) for the night or several nights or helped out in other ways, including Glenys and Max from Rosebud, Yve and John in Jabiru, The Chesters in Perth, Lyn and Mike in Adelaide, Roz and Dallas in Port Hedland, Andy in Lancefield, Suzanna from Sydney, and John from Swan Hill.

People who have donated money, including Peter and Erika.

Thanks to Adam from Switzerland for listening to my rants and helping pushing my bike up the Bloomfield Track. 

All the cycle tourists who I met on the road, for a chat with a like-minded soul or a friendly wave and a big grin when we couldn't stop to chat. 

Anyone who's ever said Hi on twitter, in an email, or commented on the blog. 


Timothy White said...

Wow. Knew nothing of this until a matter of minutes ago. Fantastic effort, motivating and inspiring.

Adrian Tritschler said...

Awesome posts, as ever. Was out of town on the weekend or we would have tried to get down to Burke & Wills on Saturday to say hello in person.

ajft / Adrian