From eucalyptus forests to the desert (16.10. - 25.10.)
16.10.07 - Tingle trees
We have passed via Walpole and now we are camping close to the Tingle Tree tourist site. Tingle trees are ancient trees, some of them are more than 400 years old. They can be found only in small areas round Walpole. They have huge buttressing roots to offset rather shallow root system. The trunk base circumference can be up to 20 m and the tree height is about 60-70 m. They usually have large burnt hollows inside due to wildfires in the past. But the trees have survived because the living tissue is right under the bark. The tingle forest is really magnificent and beautiful!
17.10.07 - Tree Top Walk
There is a famous Tree Top Walk in the tingle forest near Walpole. It is a 600 m long steel bridge system suspended in about 40 m above ground in the tree canopy, where you can observe the tree life and enjoy the walk in the height. It was not an adrenalin walk for us at all. It is very secure and accessible to people on a wheelchair as well, but some people had a problem with the height and gave up.
We have met another cyclist with panniers there. It was a Scotsman (David) cycling round the whole country. He mentioned that there was also an English guy (George) with a bob trail about 5 days ahead of him, whom we also met a few days later. Both, George and David have sold their houses in order to do their travels on bike. George has already cycled across Europe and in Africa and South America.
18.10.07 - William Bay
Another town on our way was Denmark. We have visited its William Bay. There are places called Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks there. The coastline was so beautiful that we stayed there for quite a long time watching big waves crushing against the rocky shore.
In the evening, when we were looking for a place to put up our tent, we were spotted by one farmer, Charlie Williams, who offered us his land. We were very happy, he let us cook at his place and we were watching Commissar Rex together. He showed us his amazing paintings and told us the story of his ancestors. His great grand father was brought to Australia in chains as a convict for steeling a piece of cloth. He was only 13-years old then. Some good family took charge of him and taught him farming. He had 8 children and built a stony house, which is still in good condition today. Charlie was a very energetic bloke buliding a house at the age of 75.
21.10.07- Stirling range and Malleefowl
We have cycled via Stirling Range, the first and for a long time the last mountains. The scenery was very nice. Fortunately, there have been only minor ascents. We have seen a replica of a beautiful Dutch mill, which the owner has restored and now sells his own flour.
Today, we have seen a very interesting exposition of Malleefowl birds in Ongerup. They appear scarcely in arid areas throughout Australia and they are under a threat of extinction. It is a funny bird making a big mound of soil, leaves and twigs to lay eggs inside. The mound can be one and half meters high and 22 meters in circumference. The birds make couples for live and each year they can move incredible 75 tones of material.
22.10.07 - Williams farm
When it was getting dark, we asked at one farm if we could put up a tent on their site and get some water from them. The Williams were very nice, invited us in, shared their dinner with us and made a bed for us. What else could we wish at the end of a long day! Fantastic! Thanks so much! The Williams have 7 children, which is not unusual for farmers here. In general, we noticed that there are big families in WA. 4 children are quite common.
23.10.07 - Cycling
Last days, we have cycled about 100 km every day. We are on the way to Esperance, almost 500km from Albany, the last town on our way. It has not been as easy as before. The weather has been quite bad, raining for two days, very windy and cold. It is quite unusual here for this time of a year. Also, my hay fever has gotten much worse, so I was quite struggling. Later, the sun started to shine again, but the wind persists. Unfortunately, we get head or side wind, which has slowed down our advancement a lot. Also, the road has been quite hilly. Martin seems to push uphill and against the wind quite well, but I cycle like a snail. If the hill is very steep, I change the gear to “the pensioner speed” and it takes me ages to get uphill. When we cycle less than 16 km/hour, the flies start to be a pest, constantly getting to our eyes, nose, ears etc. To make things worse for me, Martin whistles a lot. Although, this is better than his singing :-). Since he doesn’t know many songs, he usually whistles the Czech anthem or Christmas carols (Jingle bells or Silent night) and my brain then makes me sing these songs again and again even if I try to chase them away. I am really beginning to dislike Christmas carols and the Czech anthem :-).
25.10.07 (28th day) Esperance and the Yabbie farm
A day off!!!!! Great! I definitely need it to recharge my batteries for the Nullabor plain (1300 km long desert). That will be tough!
Esperance is a lovely town with beautiful white beaches. Good for surfing, but quite cold for swimming. The ocean has got only 18 degrees here, even in summer. We have visited a local aquarium, which was very interesting and beautiful. There are all sorts of strange colorful fish and animals that live along the coast of WA. The owner (Marcus) does it as his hobby and he has told us many interesting things about each creature. He has got a small shark there that likes to be scratched on his tummy. Martin could hold the shark with the assistance of Marcus. I didn't dare, I have fish phobia!
We are staying at a yabbie farm. The owners have been very helpful, they let us sleep inside, sort out our things on internet and wash our clothes. The lady (Jackie) used to cycle a lot in Europe. It is great to meet people with the same interest. They have cooked some yabbies (fresh water crayfish) for us. I have never eaten these creatures before. One has to learn how to eat them first. Now, I am a professional yabbie peeler. I liked their meet, but Martin didn’t like it very much.
Now, we are going to move to Norseman, the gate to the Nullabor plain, a 1300 km long desert, which stretches between WA and the east of the country. There is not much water and shade. Hopefully, we will cross it OK.