Day 76 66 days to go. Distance today 115km yesterday 115km total 6423km. It’s 7pm Friday 21/9/12 Cliff Head North Rest Area. Welcome to the beautiful Batavia Coast dotted with archepelo islands and reefs that provide its major industry of crayfish and rock lobsters. Wheat and sheep are another primary industry in the inland fields which are lush and stunning. Not to forget it’s tourism hot spots with sandy stretches of beaches idyllic for swimming, surfing and fishing. The reefs are also treacherous and have a history of ship wrecks dating back to the Dutch explorers of the 17th century. The most infamous story is of the ‘Batavia’ shipwrecked in 1629 on the island reefs off Geraldton. While the captain sailed to Batavia (Jakarta) for help there was a mutiny where 125 crew were massacred. The wreck is nowadays one of many popular dive sites. The islands are fished for crays for a three month season in its last weeks now. There were handful of fisherMen already packing up ship with their quota full for the season. The wharf was part of the tour Sue and John took me on this morning to show off their beloved big dot town (35000 pop). Their son in law was a cray fisherman until recent times and they would visit him and their daughter staying on the islands during the season. It was a great opportunity to visit their grandchildren and enjoy the island life not otherwise open to the public. Geraldton is beautiful and interesting as are Sue and John. John is a clever skallywag and Sue is feisty and eloquent. They share a love for mischief, fun and family and have four children, fourteen grandchildren and are endearing folk with hearts of gold. I met them first in the rest area before the WA border and we crossed paths a number of times after that. Their invitation to stay when we came through Geraldton always seemed like such a long way off. Now we’re camped 115km south at Cliff Head along the Indian Ocean Drive. We left highway 1 and its road trains at the turn off and are on the coast road all the way through to Perth yayayayayayay. The weather is so wild windy with cranky clouds and intermittent rain. We cycled through some heavy showers during our afternoon effort but with a gail force tailwind it was a quick albeit rocky ride. Rube and I were pretty relieved to arrive intact as the wind+road train gusts were unnerving. The rest area is right on the ocean beach. We arrived with sunshine and checked out the beachfront and rocky inlets. Its an awesome location but pretty exposed to the wind and patchy rain coming off the ocean. I’ve pitched grasshopper and tucked Rube in behind a camper van and its giving us some relief from the offshore weather. Im now cosy in the grape and there’s more than enough room in the grasshopper to enjoy a comfy evening before bed. Opsy in all the debacle I’ve forgotten to send my spot tracker message so I’ll be back soon….. Sorry family but it was a bit nuts arriving and setting up camp. You wouldn’t believe who’s also here, the elderly couple Helen and Gary who wet met on the 8/8/12 at New Castle Waters Rest Area. Helen spotted us and thought,’here’s another nutter like Maree’ then when she saw it was us she squealed the biggest ‘hello I can’t believe it’s youuuuuu.’ We chatted a bit but it wasn’t weather nice to stop long so I hope to see them in the morning when we wake to blue skies…… Optimism 101.
Rube and I loooooved our stay with Sue and John. The ride into Geraldton was 115km of wicked hills, head wind and flies eeeeek. I almost fell into Sue’s arms with relief when we finally rocked up at 4.30pm. Their home is up on a hill overlooking the ocean so I got to see my first sunset over the west coast big time yay huge delish treat. Just cycling onto the coast was euphoric after our long haul down the inland highway. The ocean has been teasingly close but not close enough to detour by bike. So Rube and I were all smiles when the highway hit the coastline for the last 15km into Geraldton nice nice!! Just before town we were met on the roadside by a fella who saw is in Cararvon and figured out when we’d be cycling into Geraldton where he was staying overnight. He’s a keen mountain biker from perth and had a poweraide drink waiting for us to say ‘hi’ and find out more about our story. Thank you Bill. Enjoy the Mullin Bimby track x
Sue and John are local folk who clearly love their home. They were the most gracious, generous and fun hosts and we were spoilt rotten with good company, food and treats. Sue’s sister Pam was also staying with her Jack Russell Nellie. Nellie is a rescue dog from the animal shelter with one eye. She scored half of Pam’s chicken parmagana and are mutually each other’s best friend darling sweet duo. After cleaning up and phone chats with my family, we shared an awesome evening of wining and dining and good conversation. The topic of the indigenous culture came up again. I’m so drawn to our challenge to unite the cross cultural health of our one country. Sue showed off some of her favorite photos and places they’ve visited in their three month trip. It wasn’t long before we were all ready for bed yessssss a bed……. with a doona and two fluffy pillows and everything!!!! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and more zzzzzzzzzzzzz and even more delish zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Sue woke me up at 7am which was so yummy o’clock after our early rises for yonks. We breakied and headed off for a tour of the town and a spot of shopping. We checked out the beaches and headlands, the harbor and wharf and the memorial ontop a headland overlooking the ocean. The architects from Perth who designed it did an amazing job. It’s unique and clever and appropriately beautiful. It honors the history and lives lost on the HMS Sydney 11 sunk by a german ship during WW11 and killing all 365 on board. The features of the memorial include a dome designed with the silhouette of seagulls equalling the number of lives lost. The designer was inspired when he stood at the location and a flock of seagulls flew over. There’s an obelisk replica of the ship bow equal in height with the Australian flag hoisted. There’s also a brass statue of a woman looking mournfully out to sea hoping for the ship’s return. When the memorial was erected they hadn’t as yet located the wreckage. In recent times when the sunken ship was finally located, another water pool was built using the seagull theme with a backdrop of the coastline map. John did the lighting for the fountain when he was a member of the International Rotary Group responsible for it’s construction. Pam headed off this morning with Lillie back to her home town of Dongara but not before donating $10 thank you darling heart. She left without her handbag and Sue later caught up with me on the highway so I could drop it off to her when we cycled through. Dongara’s 65km south of Geraldton and it was the least I could do to help out this gorgeous family. They waved us off after lunch and made us promise to come back to visit proper before they’re using walking frames. How could I refuse and why would I want to 🙂 As I’ve said before we’ve only just had a taste and will definitely be back for a decent check out of WA’s treasures. Thank you Sue and John for what’s been a highlight of our trip meeting you both. I must say that the grasshopper is the best comfy beach cave out of the wild night weather. It’s time to find some yummy treats for dinner and enjoy going to sleep with the sound of the ocean. $1850.85 cash donations Talk soon x