Week 12 Cranbrook to Madura

Day 78

After the excitement of yesterday (new country, kangaroos etc) it felt like a toughie today…but that might have been the nagging headwind too!

On the road it was pretty pastoral with Merino sheep flocks staring at us concertedly.. they are much more skittish than the UK! The first  roadhouse provided piping hot meat pies and tea which was great news as it is bitterly cold and we’re struggling with the >30’c temperature drop!

The ladies appeared vandalised at first but on second   glance is just a load of love messages.

And so far the facilities have been great if widley spaced.
It made good for cracking on though which we need to do with the rolling terrain and stiff winds.
Heading into the dark we had our sights set on a bnb but as the countryside got more remote we got a bit nervous passing the turn for the last village.

Finally Stevie’s headlight illuminated the sign but the drive and then the house was pitched black with just a farm dog barking in the night. We found a number to call and it turned out a email reply hadn’t come through and they were away. With it being cold already we had little option but to back track to the turn for Cranbrook and deviate there in hope of accommodation.

Stumbling into a toasty warm and bright pub hotel a fair bit later Laura hesitantly asked if they had a room- yes they did have a single room! Admitting to having Stevie outside as well Laura pleaded for the single with one of us sleeping on the floor- anything to stay in the warmth! The kind landlady offered to clear out a spare double instead and in no time we were warm, showered and tucking into lamb chops by the fire.
A glass (or two!) of Australian shiraz and we were done!

A glass (or two!) of Australian shiraz and we are done!
Praying for favourable winds soon…

Day 79

An early start from the hotel put us in a good position but itvwas bitterly cold.  We’re not sure we didn’t see a touch of frost and it wasn’t just us as the lady behind the till at the Mount Barker services commented we looked pretty chilly and the unseasonably cold weather. 

The fields of rapeseed and Merino sheep changed to vineyards and Angus beef cattle. Luckily we didn’t have time to stop at a vineyard…

Pushing on into the wind which seemed to be coming directly from the Antarctic we lost any benefit of the descent into Albany but still made good time thanks to starting early. 

Finally turning East we got a bit help from the wind and picked up the pace.  The farmland gave way to low brush and trees and we saw multitudes of parrots; dusky pink breasted Galahs eating seed from the road and even what we think we’re black Cockatoos with distinctive red tail feathers.  We had two sightings of ‘roos too, the second time bounding across the road.

A quick stop to ransack the store at Wellstead for dinner and a warming bottle of Aussie red before making the campsite with crack-a-jack timing to pitch the tent before admiring the sunset over the mountains.

Day 80

Punctures 0

After a great night camping it was thankfully a warmer morning and we had the campsite cabin to get tea and breakfast.
Making an early start before 7:30am on the road we were ready for a big day.  The next town was 50miles away so we didn’t have much to stop us powring on. The road was pretty rolling though and when we checked the profile later a steady climb. Reaching Jerramungup for lunch we fuelled up and we’re ready to push on the next 70miles to the next town.

The roads were quiet though and the peace was beautiful with lots of brush and a few parrots but no kangaroos today.  Just making Ravensthorpe by nightfall we were gutted to find the hotel and motel full but relieved to get in the campsite, albeit a wee bit stinky with two days of unwashed clothes!

Day 81

A crisp start at our last minute campsite but the sun soon came up and a kettle for tea greatly facilitated us getting on the road.

It was certainly rolling with views of great long snakes of tamac ahead and most of the time only a few Galahs to keep us company.  Our one and only roadhouse stop was at about 50miles and we were grateful to tuck into burgers.  The lady there assured us that the motel/hotel at Gibson, our destination for the day, would be very unlikely to be full with moat drivers pushing on to Esperance one way and Norseman the other.  Feeling relived of a prospect of a bed and shower we pushed the next 60 miles through “Many Hills” and into a light headwind.

Laura’s routing fell through at the last and after almost ending up on a gravel road in the dark and almost bailing another 15miles down to Esperance we found our road. A peaceful ride in in the dark and we were relieved to see shining lights ahead.

The pub was a haven of warmth after being out in the cold night…but it was not to be!  Despite the local advice, Google maps and recent reviews the hotel was closed after a fire.  We knew the answer but asked if there was anywhere else anyway but the nearest was Esperance, too far for tonight and too much distance to add in the morning. A kind chap at the bar offered us a lift, but it was still the same predicament.

We had decided to get a meal and suffer another cold night on the football pitch in the tent when a kind bloke came over for a chat. He was on his way to a drilling job South and hearing our problem offered to get us space to sleep in an outhouse gym belonging to the Macguiver of Gibson next door. We couldn’t believe our luck to get somewhere warm and dry and the day was saved! He even pinged us some wifi to book the following nights hotel and things were definitely looking up!

Day 82

After being waved off by our saviour from last night we hit the road…straight into a block headwind.

50 miles later the novelty had definitely worn off as we piled into the Salmon Gums roadhouse for lunch.  It was only just starting to warm up too and we felt hard done by having had headwinds going South to Albany and now North to Norseman.

Stevie got his glove stitched up and a rather awesome video message from Queen tribute bands but will have to wait for his home-baked cake until we are closer to an oven!

Setting off again we managed to get our navigation spot on for the rest of the road and pushed on to Caiguna our next roadhouse. About 15 miles out, suddenly the wind switched and came in from our right side. It was immediately apparent how much help we’d been having and the last few miles were tough but finally we turned the corner…literally and rolled into Caiguna before dark.

Happily the wind dropped in the second half of the day and we were able to make Norseman just in time for a tremendous sunset-the photos don’t do it justice.

Fuelling up on a birthday dinner of chicken parmi’ we are set to hit the Nullabor desert tomorrow!

Day 83

Feeling much refreshed after a shower and a night in a bed we enjoyed an all you can eat breakfast before hitting the road.  But first we needed to stock up on supplies before the Nullabor desert!

The prices have noticeably gone up as we are getting more remote and we set off with a heavier bike and a lighter wallet! The warning signs leaving the town suggested we’d been right to be prepared and our next stop was Balladonia, 120 miles away.  

It had been a chilly start but soon warmed up and for the first time in Australia Laura’s leg warmers came off!

We did pass a couple of picnic areas with benches but that was the extent of facilities on the road.  We decided to pull over just past the halfway mark and had planned to put the kettle on, but as soon as we stopped the flies descended!! With the heat an the flies we grabbed a very brief lunch before escaping on the tandem.

The rest of the afternoon was a rolling downhill and now we finally had crosswinds we made great progress. The temperature dropped rapidly once the sun went down, but it was definitely worth it to ride through another glorious sunset.  Making the motel in time for dinner we were able to get an early night…but not before watching a bit if “escape to the country” which surreally had a property 10miles from where we live in the UK! 

Day 84

Walking out of the motel room the morning to brilliant blue skies we were more excited about another bit of weather: westerlies!

Today is a big day, and should be relatively straightforward…Well very straightforward… 90 miles straight forward! 

About 20 miles with a couple of bends and them we hit the famous 90 mile straight- the longest straight road in Australia!  And the wond had the potential to make it 90 miles of misery so we were delighted to have finally got the wind on our back.

This is our first proper day in the Nullabor and the desert of “no trees” doesn’t quite live up to its name starting off with plenty of rough trees and thinning out to bushes and scrub.  It is still pretty green but this is spring and the air is already parched and dry, feeling brittle compared to the incessant humidity of Asia.  The views roll for miles and miles and the level of vegetation varies but aside from a couple of flocks of galahs the wildlife was sparse.  We found a picnic area for lunch and were joined by some chirpy and  cheeky birds who happily shared our pastries.  The only other bit of wildlife was the flies…Laura is pretty sure the same three followed us from Balladonia to Caiguna on Stevie’s back no matter how much we swatted them!

The other end!

Day 85

Walking out of the motel room in the morning there was initial sense of dread as the wind seemed to be against us…then we realised we were on the other side of the road and it was tails!

A bit of breakfast as we were ready to roll with the wind on our backs.  The scrubland came and went today and the curves and bends in the road were welcome.  Only just over 40 miles down the road was the next stop- a real treat for lunch! Not theist inspiring soup in the World but a very interesting spot as Cocklebiddy where budgies outnumbered permanent residents.

The wind was still blowing strong throughout the afternoon and at one point Laura’s windproof went flying as she tried to clip it around her waist.  By the time we had turned to get it it had overtaken uson the way down the road ! We just about managed to catch it up…

Apart from that there wasn’t much other excitement- I think we are due some sort of refund from the Australian tourist board because the kangaroo/emu/camel/cow warning signs are definitely false advertising! 

Suddenly though the road dropped down and we had an amazing view over an immense flat plateau, scooped out by the ocean many years ago and leaving a great bowl of desert.  

Getting to Madura early we were really looking forward to a long evening to recover…but it turns out we’ve used up our luck for the day and the motel was full! There is a campsite but we had been pedalling hard for a warm shower and a comfy bed so we’re more than a bit disappointed. Pitching the tent in the bushes we at least got a hot dinner and decided to call ahead to book the next two roadhouses/motels.  But these are full for the next two nights too! It looks like we’re going to have a tough stint in the desert!!


Mileage 788

Total mileage 8016miles

Pizza 0 😱 😭

Kangaroo sightings 2

One thought on “Week 12 Cranbrook to Madura

  1. Great to read your blog ; you don’t think of Australia as being cold .
    Best of luck , keep plodding on ; why no photos
    Cheers Ivor

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