Arrived in Mumbai in the early afternoon. Took a cab from the airport to a hotel I’d picked online a couple of days before. Was a prepaid taxi (you pay in the airport and take the receipt to the driver). Should save some time negotiating. Should. The driver then started telling me that what I had paid was only the booking fee. Lol. Then he said he didn’t know the hotel and that it would be impossible to find it given the traffic conditions. Wanted to drop me off elsewhere. Told me the hotel that he didn’t even know would be booked out. Was quite funny to see him try all the obvious tricks. Made him ask for directions and drop me off at the correct hotel. Turned out we’d been driving in circels very close to the hotel all the time. Gave him a little extra for the entertainment, but clearly told him it was a tip.
I spent the past days in Sydney, waiting for my Indian visa application to come through, doing lots of sports (cycling, running, some swimming), some (but really not much) sightseeing. Stayed in a hostel in Coogee Beach.
Each year Bicycle Victoria, a non-profit organization promoting cycling, organizes the Around the Bay in a Day mass ride around Port Phillip Bay. This year more than 15.000 riders joined the fun. Apart from individuals, many companies and universities participate with teams and Martin, working for Monash University, urged me to join the Monash team. I finally agreed and decided to attempt the 210km distance in anti-clockwise direction (ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento).
It’s been a month since I last cycled fully loaded, but I’d done some training rides mostly on Saturday and Sunday mornings along the bay in the past weeks. Many locals use the early hours for training rides, too, and it was great fun to be able to keep up with their expensive road bikes despite my using my heavy-duty touring mountain bike with unchanged tires.
The actual ride today was awesome. There were some 5.000 riders who went in the same direction as me. I finished after pretty much exactly 7 hours of net riding time and an average speed of 30 kph!
Got up early to go to the railway station and catch The Overland train bound for Melbourne. The ride’s not too spectacular but it was a good chance for me to catch up on some sleep, which I did do mostly in the dining car. :)
Martin and Lynnette picked me up in Melbourne. Met 2 of their friends on the streets and went for some Indian food with them.
I slept well but was disturbed by Lucy the mouse in the middle of the night. Lucy was rummaging through my rubbish and I managed to take a picture of her.
I continued on Parmango Road slash Balladonia Track towards the Eyre Highway. In some place the track felt like corrugated iron and cycling was difficult. I tried to ride off the road but that wasn’t possible everywhere. Progress was slow then.
Pretty exhausted I made it to Balladonia Road House where I am the only guest in the dorm room. I had a big burger for dinner and will sleep well for sure.
A somewhat more adventurous day (compared to the previous ones). :)
The paved road ended not long after I left in the morning. The track was quite ok even though a couple of signs at the road side had painted a bleak picture yesterday. The farmland disappeared and made way for light forest.
My shelter for the night was an abandoned homestead, Deralinya, about half-way between last night’s camp spot and Balladonia Road House at the Eyre Highway.
Deralinya appears to be a well-known place amongst outback travelers, as there is a well-signed guest book, some emergency rations (probably out of date), mattresses, self-drawn maps, and other goodies.
The past days I spent in Esperance. Among other things I met a local couchsurfer, David, for some chatting, and I saw Sally the seal.
Then today I left the town and continued eastish, first on Fisheries Road, to Condingup. The countryside is heavily used for agriculture. Then I turned off onto what I thought was called Balladonia Track, but OpenstreetMap nowadays calls it Parmango Road. According to the map, Balladonia Road is a rough(er) track somewhat more to the east. I don’t have working GPS with me so I can only guess that I’m on Parmango Road, really.
In the evening I pitched tent between the narrow strip of trees next to the road and a fenced-off field of rapeseed.
I left early for this long ride today on the South Coast Highway. A somewhat uneventful ride which took quite a while and I arrived in Esperance after nightfall. It also took me a while to find the local hostel. For some reason I knocked on the wrong door and the person there didn’t know anything about a hostel.
I’ll stay here again for a day or two to stock up on food and energy before the long ride through the real outback and across the Nullarbor plain towards Adelaide.
The last two days saw me hang around Ravensthorpe. There is not much to do here, but I saw the local charity shop, library, and pub.
Yesterday I saw a big snake near my ‘flat’. A neighbor told me that they were all harmless down here, but checking at the library revealed that it was possibly a Tiger Snake (which is somewhat dangerously venomous).
Today, then, I weathered off a massive thunderstorm under my tin roof, as well as outside.
I was there quite late (around 10am) and spent an hour looking around.
Then I went on eastwards, and later in a southeastern and southern direction. My Coles bags are starting to show some wear, but I’m sure they’ll keep me company for a while longer (also, there are no alternatives).
In Lake King I tried to get a room in the local pub/hotel. Everything was fully booked, so I pitched tent on the local camp site.
My original plan was to go east from Beverly over minor tracks. However, yesterday I had found a wallet with bank cards at the side of the road, and later at night a cell phone. Beverly had no open police station – however, Brookton, a bit to the south, does. So after a visit to the Beverley Aeronautical Museum I first continued south on the Great Southern Highway, then turned into Brookton, where I dropped off phone and wallet. I can, if no-one else claims it within a year or so and if I’m still in Australia, call myself happy owner of a new cell phone. Yay.
From Brookton I went east, to Corrigin. I’m still (and will be for a while) in what is probably considered densely populated station country. The land left and right of the road is often fenced in and used for agriculture or grazing.