G’day Lifecyclers and Welcome to ‘Straya!

25 October 2019

Thursday 17 – Sunday 20 October 19 – Perth – 0km!

So, having lost Martina’s phone on the wrong side of passport control at Singapore’s Changi Airport the only thing to do was to proceed to the departure gate. It was here that Martina had her second trauma of the day – the security staff spotted something in her carry-on bag that they weren’t happy with. Martina tipped the contents out (including knickers) into trays so that they could be re-scanned. Again they weren’t happy. Digging around in the bag we found a small penknife that neither of us knew was there – it was all a bit embarrassing and almost tipped Martina over the edge.  But the flight was blissfully uneventful if a bit dull, so at least we got to relax – and we had front row seats so it was nice and comfy!

Five hours later we sailed through customs without a baggage inspection, which in one way was a relief but in another way slightly infuriating as we’d had spent so much time scrubbing our bikes and kit within an inch of their lives.  We were asked “Are your bikes clean?”, to which we replied “Very!” and that was it…we were out the door and after a short wait for our maxi taxi we were on our way to Judy and Pete’s. We had heard horror stories of other cyclists having their gear confiscated because it wasn’t 100% clean, so we got off lightly.   But better to be safe than sorry.

Judy and Pete who we were staying with in Perth are friends of Martina’s sister’s friend’s friend – I hope you got that?! A quick recap…on our first day in the Netherlands we stayed with Simone, a friend of Irish Bairbre, who is a friend of Martina’s older sister Liz. Judy, is a friend of Simone’s and her partner Pete is Dutch, neither of which we had met before.  Right, I’m not explaining that again! It will be interesting to see if we stay with someone who is even more removed than that on this journey.   When we arrived Judy and Pete were both there to greet us and immediately made us feel at home, so we settled in.

Though we had some chores to do whilst in Perth such as reassemble and check bikes – (they survived with just a few new scratches), washing, food shopping, getting a SIM card, a new phone for Martina etc, we also managed to see quite a bit of the local area…

King’s Park, which is a really super place on a hill, gave us some great views over the city…

….as well as introducing us to some of the local wildlife such as this galah…

…shingle backs, which are part of the blue tongue lizard family…

..and many trees and flowers.  We are really looking forward to learning more about Australia’s flora and fauna on our journey as it already looks amazing.

…. Trigg Beach for a pizza dinner with Judy’s Son Dan, his wife Tam and their two young sons, Archie and Zac…

(Only Archie, Judy and Pete in the picture)

We also went to Scarborough, where we sat watching what we think is a stereotypical scene of an Aussie beach – people jogging, cycling, surfing, walking dogs, surf rescue training, etc and generally looking good…

And of course watched the Rugby World Cup quarter finals…

(I’ll not mention the results through fear of reprisals)

And in true Aussie tradition we enjoyed a barby…

We also had some great conversations, food and drink, with Judy and Pete (and not forgetting Murphy their dog) and felt like we’d known them far longer than the 3 days we were with them. They have made us feel right at home and was an amazing start to our time in Australia.

But our cycling journey must continue…

Monday 21 October 19 – Perth to Mandurah – 101km

So, we tore ourselves away from northern Perth, headed west, hit the coast and turned left. From then on the navigation was easy! For a city of 2 million people it was easy to get out of town and we even encountered these strange markings on the floor everywhere which almost appeared to be designed for cyclists….

I think that the last time was saw anything like this was in Europe! When we reached Freo (Fremantle) we stopped for our first round of coffee and cake for a very long time – cake watch is back folks! From then on the path alternated between the coasts, dunes and a few roads, but in general it was really nice riding with some lovely views especially in the area near Rockingham (which to me sounds like a concert venue!)…

We’d been in touch with WarmShowers hosts Will and Jenny in Mandurah (locally pronounced Mandrah) who’d invited us to stay. Will came to meet us at Golden Bay and led us the last 15km back to their house in the centre of town. On our way we met Aki, a Japanese cyclist, who has cycled across Europe, the States and Australia and was on his way home. Unfortunately we only had time for a short chat.

A very warm welcome from Jenny and their excitable dog Rodgie was waiting for us.  They had a fantastic self-contained ground floor flat ready for us to use, which was brilliant – much better than most of the accommodation that we stayed in whilst in Asia! Will also had the best man shed (think large barn rather than shed!) EVER where he keeps numerous bikes, motorcycles, camper van, etc, which was the ideal place for us to store our bikes. They have toured in Europe, Australia, the States on bicycles and across India on motorcycles, so we had loads to talk about and the conversation flowed very easily. Will cooked a huge barby and we stuffed ourselves.  An all round super evening.

Tuesday 22 October 19 – Mandurah to Bunbury – 111km

We said our goodbyes to Jenny and Rodgie…

…. then set off with Will accompanying us.  He showed us around the lovely town centre of Mandurah where there is a smart marina….

Will then cycled another 15km south with us before we parted our ways.

We had to spend about 35km on a reasonably busy road which wasn’t so nice, but there were large shoulders which made the cycling better until, that is, until a Road Train  passed.  Road Trains are massive trucks pulling two trailers which cause quite a bit of suction, so we had to be really careful every time one passed us. The drivers are generally pretty good and gave us as wide a berth as possible when they could.

We managed to get off the main road about 20km north of Bunbury onto a very nice route that took us alongside a sea inlet (thanks Will for the route info!). We got very excited when we saw our first live Roos (note, Aussies generally abbreviate everything!) rather than dead ones at the side of the road. We also had our first encounter with “maggies” (magpies), which are renowned for swooping on people when they have young in trees nearby. Apparently cyclists are their favourite target, and we definitely experienced that firsthand as we both had our helmets heavily pecked by a fast-moving maggie!

We arrived in Bunbury at almost exactly the same time as Amy, another WarmShowers host, arrived home from work. Amy has a great apartment in the centre of town and once we were settled in she brought out a huge plate of nibbles for us to tuck into. Amy has cycled a world tour and had recently come back from an epic month of solo cycling around Iceland – it all sounded very remote and tough going.! Yet again it was an evening with another like-minded cycling spirt who we found very easy to talk to. The three of us were obviously very comfortable in each others’ company early on as Martina was even left to cook the barby!

Amy is a serial WarmShowers host and has people to stay just about every other week and has lots of stories of the people that visit. One story in particular made us rather incredulous – she looked after an American guy who got angry when she wouldn’t give him money to fund his cycling – the utter cheek of some people!

So, basically we’ve had a hat-trick of top Aussie hospitality in our first 5 days. And if this level of hospitality continues, I don’t think that we’ll be losing any weight whilst we are here!

Wednesday 23 October 19 – Bunbury to Dunsborough – 83km

After saying our goodbyes to Amy we got straight onto a cycle path right next to the beach. Yet more great cycling, but this time the headwind made it a lot more difficult, as did the rain that sporadically dumped on us. This is the first cold rain we’ve encountered for a long time and this part of Australia at this time of year is surprisingly chilly.

In spite of the weather, the scenery continued to be beautiful – this piece of coast really is a relatively unknown gem and we loved cycling it. In the few places where there are houses they tend to be large and very posh and we liked a lot of them! We stopped for two lunch breaks. On the first one we spotted a pod of dolphins just off shore, and for the second one we sat on a jetty with a great view…

Once in Dunsborough we contacted Juliet, another WarmShowers host, who had agreed to look after us. We have had a great success rate with WarmShowers in Australia and the Aussies (and Kiwis – see below) are just so friendly it’s great! As we were leaving the town’s foreshore area a white van pulled up and guy jumped out and announced ‘you’re staying with me tonight’! Grieg is Juliet husband and after introductions we headed up to their house –  and what a fantastic place it was too.

We’d heard from a local down at the foreshore that there were Humpback Whales in the Bay at the end of the peninsula near to Dunsborough. Within 10 minutes of meeting Juliet we’d been given the keys to her car so that we could go out there to have a look! Brilliant! So we did and we got to see a fair few whales into the bargain, which neither of us have ever seen before. Even if we hadn’t seen any whales it was worth the drive just to see the spectacular and rugged coastline.

Juliet and Grieg moved from New Zealand to Australia 30 years ago and started a family who have now grown up and moved away from Dunsborough. They’ve bicycle-toured in Canada and still cycle when they can in their local area, though Grieg got knocked off his bike by a Roo recently and had to have an operation on his shoulder. They have their own catering business which meant that we put on at least a kilo in weight because of the great food they prepared for us and their friend, Max (another cyclist) who also came over for dinner.

As Kiwis there was plenty of rugby banter and Grieg even apologised in advance for New Zealand beating England this coming Saturday. I’m guessing his assumption will turn out to be correct and will expect a load of texts at the final whistle!

Initial observations of Western Australia 

Though we have been here for only a week we have made a couple of early observations…

  • Everything is geared up for the great outdoors – there’s walking and bike paths everywhere. All along the coast there are play parks for kids, places to have a shower, places to clean your dog, free barby sites (either gas or electric fired), etc, etc.
  • When people see us they are generally very inquisitive and have asked loads of questions. We’ve also had a few people honk their horns at us, though we don’t know whether it’s a sign of encouragement, anger or if they’ve just spotted Martina’s brand new Ireland flag which is attached to the back of her bike!
  • The internet in Australia is pretty slow!

4 comments

  1. Comment by Flo

    Flo Reply 29 October 2019 at 12:34 am

    Cleaver amazing people, where do you get your stamina,you must be eating well to keep that pace,I admire you both, wonderful blog too.

    • Comment by Nigel

      Nigel Reply 4 November 2019 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Flo, the stamina comes from eating our own body weight in food every day! Glad you still enjoy our ramblings!

  2. Comment by Will

    Will Reply 26 October 2019 at 12:14 am

    Hi Nigel & Martina,
    Happy to hear you’ve had such a great start to your Straya Tour and are getting a handle on the Aussie Lingo. It was nice to meet you both. Yeah the Internet here is slow & since the Aussies were knocked out of the Rugby World Cup we are now barracking for our Kiwi Cuzzie Bro’s the All Blacks. Us Antipodean have to stick together 🙂
    Will & Jenny.

    • Comment by Nigel

      Nigel Reply 4 November 2019 at 12:30 pm

      Hi Will and Jenny, obviously a late reply to your comment, which is a shame as I’d have been able to give you a hard time about the semi final results, but there’s no point now!

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