Cycling Kangaroo - WA Tour: WA Trip Reports

South West Western Australia

October 13th-29th, 2004

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Thursday October 14th, 2004 - Perth (Photos)

An early start today. My alarm went off at 3:50am & I bounded out of bed feeling remarkably awake. Hopped into the shower, and instead of feeling even more refreshed when I got out, I felt more tired. My body was saying '"who are you trying to kid - I know it's the middle of the night!".

Headed off to the airport at 4:30am. Pity traffic isn't that light all the time. Rick dumped Dilys & I and the bikes and took the van to the long term car park. Getting there & back took more time than getting to the airport & the plane was already boarding by the time he got checked in.

Quick dash through security & through the gate enabled us to join the long queue to actually get on the plane.

4.5 uneventful hrs later & we were in Perth reassembling our bikes. Had lots of fun trying to figure out how to fit everything on the bike. I wonder what I can ditch. Do you think Rick would notice if I left his thermarest & mug behind? I guess he probably would - probably wouldn't let me sleep in the tent! Ah well, with stuff strapped on top I managed to get everything on (just!).

Quick photo at the airport of us by one of the WA 'welcome' people and we were off! First impressions of Perth this time around? Brrrr! After hot, hot, hot yesterday (and for those in Sydney - yes I've already heard about the record temps there today), anyway Perth was cold.

A pleasant ride along the bike path for 7 or so km's and the sign "tea rooms open" beckoned us, as although our watches said 11am, our stomachs were saying "food! Gimmee food!". Sandwich, two coffees and a cake later, we were on our way again.

More pleasant riding along the river followed by some pondering as the path ended & the signage was non existent. Resorting to a more detailed map, we found that the monster hill was in fact the way we wanted (needed?) to go. A few photo stops along the way, and before long we were in Perth.

Being the sort of people that spend more for lunch than accommodation, we did notice that something was missing when we got to our room. Let's see. Beds: 1, 2. People: 1, 2, 3. Hmm, discrepancy here. Went was down to reception & pointed this out & the told me that housekeeping was bringing the extra bed. Woohoo - a trundle bed! As expected it was saggy, baggy, so I am now (having drawn the short straw) typing this while lying on a mattress on the floor. Trundle bit is now sitting unwanted in the corner.

Had a bit of a wander around Perth this arvo and took in the sights (shops). No plans for dinner yet, but I expect we'll wander off soon & grab something.



Friday October 15th, 2004 - Perth

Day 2 and not a whole lot to report. Ran around getting gas canisters & bus tickets, before heading over to Kings Park, where we saw carpets of wildflowers. Today was far warmer than yesterday, with a real sting in the sun. There was however a fairly cool breeze, and it wasn't very warm in the shade.

Lunch was a much cheaper affair today with rolls/sandwiches. Dilys thought it might be fun to empty her cheese & salad on the grass before eating it. I personally didn't think that this looked like a good idea, so I got mine out more carefully.

Sadly tonight we had planned to do a twilight winery/dinner cruise, which included a cruise up the Swan, cheese & antipasto platter, 3 wineries, dinner and dessert, plus a brewery on the way back. Unfortunately, they needed a minimum of 4, and not one of the other tourists crawling around Perth booked in. Bummer. We're going to try again tomorrow night. If not then, never!

See ya,


Saturday October 16th, 2004 - Perth

Now where do I start today? At the end, or at the beginning. I think I should probably start at the end. The comment Dilys has just made was "at least I bounce". The thing that prompted this comment was her fight with a car a few hours ago. Not surprisingly, she and her bike lost.

The bike is now sporting a brand new front wheel (as she conveniently had her collision right near the bike shop) courtesy of the car driver. Dilys unfortunately, is not so easy to fix, with many bruises & a sprained wrist. Currently she is doing the RICE thing (rest, ice, compression & elevation).

As a consequence of the injury, our plans for tomorrow have now changed - instead of getting the bus to Capel & riding to Peppermint Grove, we are going direct to Busselton, which will give Dilys two days to recover.

So what happened the rest of the day? Well we rode out to Fremantle along the river. The ride was rather pleasant, and we rode past many, many houses that positively screamed "MONEY!!". Really quite astounding.

Just before Fremantle we stopped at what was listed as a 'kiosk' on the map. It turned out to be a licensed restaurant/coffee shop. Walking in to order, I noticed a very nice looking summer pudding in the 'cake fridge'. Sold! It looked too good to pass up. Rick & Dilys ordered far more sedately, with a Devonshire coffee, and a flat white & a slice respectively. When mine came out however they were both hugely jealous. The piece they gave me was HUGE and was drizzled with raspberry coulis. Definitely the best summer pudding I've ever has. Absolutely chock-full of all sorts of berries - blueberries, mulberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries. Yum!

Once in Fremantle, we had a wander through the markets. Nothing special, however we did pick up a nice loaf of bread and some cheese & olives for lunch.

After some more wandering, we hopped on the train for the return journey. Being peak hour, we had to hop off the station before Perth as you are not allowed to take the bikes through Perth in peak times.

It was in this last bit, riding back to our hotel (directly opposite Perth train station!) that the above incident occurred. Ironically, for the last 500m, where there was no bike path, Dilys decided that she didn't want to 'play with the traffic', so she crossed the road and went along the was in these last 500m she and the car collided...

That's all folks!

Sunday October 17th, 2004 - Busselton (Photos)

An eventful morning as we discovered that we all need to top up our first aid knowledge. While still okay with treating injuries, the specifics of sling tying has gone walkies...

Deciding that we should put Dilys' arm in a sling, we knew we didn't want a regular sling, so we all agreed 'collar & cuff' was the way to go. Unfortunately, although each of us could picture the sling we wanted, none of us could remember how to tie it. After MUCH searching on the internet, we found a site that described how to tie all of the slings. It became immediately obvious that we actually wanted the 'St John's sling'. Tony tested it out a few times on Cathy & it was decided that he should NOT be let loose near any injured person, so I trussed up Dilys like a stuffed turkey (see attached very low res PDA pic).

After finally getting the second aid done, we went for a wander over to the jetty, planning to go out to the underwater obsevatory. This was already fully booked out for the morning, so we booked in for the 4pm train ride/tour. Having purchased these tickets, we decided to do the 4km walk out and back. Rather pleasant. After returning, we had an ice cream from Simmo's, which is locally made. After this we did a tour of Coles & picked up some sandwich fixings, and had a cheap tasty lunch in the park.

After lunch we headed to the Geographe Bay Cheese Company (another few km's away) and did some cheese tasting and bought some cumin cheese, and a blue which we are demolishing now.

After this we made our way back to the van and played a very US biased "20 questions" (with some cards Cathy brought along). No one managed to get the "Minnesota Twins" one, however (not surprisingly) I got the Montana one within 4 questions (clues). Actually the 2nd clue did it for me, but it was not my turn.

After a few rounds of this, it was back to the jetty. This time we caught the train out to the end and got taken down to the observatory. It was very good (the other low res pic attached). We all enjoyed it - rather good! ( or maybe :-)

Tonight Tony is cooking - we're having BBQ'd snags and salad.

That's about it for today - BBQ, local beer & wine to come.


Monday October 18th, 2004 - Busselton to Dunsborough (Photos)

Cathy has said that I should make sure I include words such as 'awesome', 'wonderous', 'spectacular', 'huge', 'amazing', 'once in a life-time', 'awe inspiring', and Dilys has added 'cute'

(????). Yes, we had a good day today. We started early sans-panniers, and headed to Dunsborough. The weather was perfect, and the cycleway along the beach was really good. Kept up a cracking pace and made it to Dunsborough before Dilys had even left Busselton. Yes Dilys is still unable to ride, so we chipped in for a cab and threw Dilys & the panniers in.

Checked in to the YHA and got a room with a view over the beach. Made our way to the whale watching boat, and redid our sunscreen. Whale watching guys suggested removing shoes if we didn't want to get them wet, as we were being ferried to the big boat by little boat from the beach. Did as suggested & went for a paddle while waiting my turn. The water seemed a bit chilly first up, but very quickly felt very inviting.

We saw LOTS of whales, and as we were heading back we had some come up to the boat and started swimming around us and under us. Really cool. They were sooo close! You know it's pretty special when the skipper of the boat grabs his camera and comes out also, and the deck hands were getting pretty excited also. Don't know if I got any good photos - was too busy ooohing and aaahing.

Pretty good. The only downside is that my feet (and Rick's & Dilys') got sunburned (as we never put our shoes back on and we didn't sunscreen them (BAD!). I also ended up with the top of my head burnt :-(

In the arvo we had a wander around Dunsborough, and we are currently playing trivial pursuit (and hoping we get a winner soon as we are all getting tired...)


Tuesday October 19th, 2004 - Dunsborough to Margaret River (Photos)

Bit weary tonight (late nights, early mornings & lots of fresh air). Today we rode around 60km, and had a stop at 'The Olive Pit' (no olives to taste! Only oil. Huh!). Next stop was the Bootleg Brewery, where we tasted all of their beers between us except for the really strong beer (name escapes me). We also surreptitiously ate our sandwiches in their garden (as there were signs saying only their food there). Next stop was the Margaret River Chocolate Factory where we all bought a single chocolate each (figuring more wouldn't travel too well). We also bought a 'chocolate' T-shirt for Dilys (travelling to MR by bus) as she's a major chocoholic.

Next stop was a winery, as we couldn't ride through this region without checking out at least one. First choice was bad one. After we'd travelled at least 750m along the driveway, with the winery still not in sight, we turned back. Next attempt was one we'd seen from the road. The lady there told us that the other one was a LONG way in and it was probably a good thing that we'd turned around. From there we rode a bit further on the road before hitting the 'rails to trails' (old railway lines converted to bike tracks), for the last 14km to MR, where we met up with Dilys again.

Next 3 nights in MR in a very nice house.


Wednesday October 20th, 2004 - Margaret River

A non-riding day today with a bushwalk along the Margaret River looking at wildflowers, followed by a good look around the township. Not much of note happened today, however it was a pleasant day.

I did forget to tell you about the 'attack cow' that gave us all a good laugh. First up riding behind Rick, I saw the cow dash out (somewhat like a dog), and head straight towards Rick (or that's how it appeared to me). I fact it was startled by Rick and was racing back to join the herd on the other side of the road. Unfortunately for the cow, it couldn't get through the fence, so it ran away again, back across the road towards me, until she noticed me and panicked again, and this time made it through the fence with brute force, which caused a mass stampede of the rest of them away from us. Poor cow, but it was incredibly funny :-)

Thursday October 21st, 2004 - Margaret River

Well today we did a bushtucker canoe tour, and for kayakers, all I can say is that Rick & I are crappy canoers! REALLY crappy. We however did not capsize as Cathy & Tony did :-)

I'd love to blame the freeloader (Dilys) in the centre of our canoe, but other people had little kids in theirs, and although they had paddles, I don't think they helped...

So, why were we so bad? No idea...On the first leg, I was at the back & therefore in charge of steering. We zigged & zagged as I struggled to come to terms with the fact that you (a) only have half a paddle and (b) a canoe reacts in the completely opposite way to the kayak for steering paddle stokes.

I also struggled with the front-seat driver (Rick) who keep giving me lots on non-constructive criticism: "you're going the wrong way", "stop over compensating", "you need to steer, nothing I do has any impact on the direction we go". Etc, etc.

At each stop, we cruised up well after everyone else had stopped, and the guy was into his spiel. At the turn-around point where we went ashore, I gleefully jumped out and handed the 'drivers' seat to Rick. For the first 30 seconds or so we went in a straight line and I muttered to Dilys "bugger, we're going in a straight line". I did however speak to soon as Rick started making the same mistakes as I did. Zig zag, zig zag. At the lunch spot, we turned up last (again), having covered a far greater distance than anyone else...

Lunch was a fascinating event, with lots of bush tucker. We tried bush tomatoes, quondongs, rosellas (not the birds), bush peppercorns, bunya nuts, Illawarra plums, some type of grub (not witchety), pepper bush leaf, smoked emu, wattle seeds, sea spinach, bush celery, and some other green stuff that if supposed to improve your memory, but none of us can remember what it was called, so we obviously didn't have enough!

Anyway, seems I was the only one (of the 5 of us) that didn't try the grub or the emu (what a wuz!). For lunch, our guide demonstrated how we could make up a sandwich with all of this stuff and then offered it to the first person to grab it. Dilys jumped up & took it figuring that she wouldn't be able to make her own. The rest of us did our own. They ended up tasting pretty good!

After lunch we went for a walk around the limestone cliffs - a fair few climbs but apparently all but one are 23-24 which is way out of my league. Tony, Rick & I did however do a little bouldering. The walk took us up onto the Cape to Cape walking track, and we saw plenty of wildflowers, some well known to us (fringed lillies etc), some unknown. Towards the end we went onto a cave at the bottom of the cliffs with some formations and a fairly large column.

On the canoe back there was a race to the finish with the winner getting a bottle of wine. I told Cathy & Tony we expected great things from them (realistically giving us no chance). He suggested the front person (me) remove shoes & socks for the jump out at the end. I figured it was probably a waste, but did it anyway. A the starting line, there was a crush of boats and we were squeezed out the back as he said go. "No fair" we cried & he tried to restart, but it was too late. We quickly fell further behind as the others continued ahead in a group. I was reminded of the winter olympics, when Stephen Bradbury won the gold in the speed skating when everyone else feel over on the last turn. I said "maybe they'll all capsize and we'll cruise on by to win". Of course, this only happens in fairly tales and at the Olympics... In the end we of course came last again - everyone had landed & disembarked while we were still paddling up. Ah well, I think that's the end of my canoeing career - give me a kayak any day!

On the plus side Dilys did comment that this was the driest she had ever been when canoeing, so we may be hopeless steerers, but we can paddle without capsizing or splashing!


Friday October 22nd, 2004 - Margaret River to Boranup Forest (Photos)

Well it's actually early Saturday morning, but there's a limit to how long I can sleep on a thermarest on hard ground before my hips complain, so I'm up.

Slow start yesterday, repacking the panniers & getting Dilys relocated to the caravan park for the night. Her big test comes today as she has to get all her gear to the bus station by herself.

First stop on the ride was a woodturning place. We followed this with Xanadu Winery. All I can say is "Margaret River - land of the long driveways" - this one was 2km long. It was however paved the whole way - sure sign the place was not a small family operation, but owned by one of the big conglomerates (in this case I think it was Norman's). When we eventually did arrive at the 'cellar door', we were not disappointed. Landscaped gardens, bike parking(!), sculptures, gallery, restaurant, and most importantly very nice wines and friendly staff. 3 cases of wine later (1 for Rick & I, 2 for Cathy & Tony) we enjoyed a coffee & bikkies by the fire before heading back out to the bikes. Now the dilemma - how to fit 3 cases of wine onto the bikes....

Just kidding - it included free freight...we did however have 1 bottle to fit in. By this time it was 12:30pm! We decided to forgo any more wineries & head straight to the caves or lunch. At the caves we munched on our sambo's and the did the 2:30pm tour of Lake Cave. Very pretty - lots of straws and a lovely suspended table above the water. It was however a long way down & up (300+ stairs according to the sign - don't recall the exact number.

After the cave we loaded up with water & made our way to Boranup Forest Drive. The road was dirt & a bit slow as the first part was sandy and uphill. At this stage did wonder if we'd make the campground by dark, but fortunately, the surface improved & we got a downhill, so we made good progress for many km's. The forest was lovely, in some ways like the Blue Gum forest (for those that know it), but with Karri trees and much larger. Progress was again slow as we hit the final uphill to the lookout. On of those hills where you think you're just about at the top and you come around the bend and it keeps going. It did however come to an end eventually however, and as Rick & Tony continued on to the campsite, I raced up to grab a peek at the lookout while waiting for Cathy. Rick is on his way to take a look now while C & T snooze (of course it was all downhill from the lookout to the campground, so it means he has at least 1km of solid uphill to get there).

This morning, after packing up, we'll head out of the forest, and on to Augusta where we meet up with Dilys again.


Saturday October 23rd, 2004 - Boranup Forest to Augusta (Photos)

Beautiful weather today. Got up early as mentioned earlier. Rick's trip to the lookout went a bit wrong & he ended up at the beach instead...(he did ponder on the fact it was going down instead up...)

First stop today was the Boranup Maze which is a hedge maze. After a few dead ends, we found the centre. I then successfully led up back out with no wrong turns (see, my memory is pretty good for some things).

Next stop was Jewel Cave, which was another very pretty caves with many, many straws, helictites & helicmites (had never seen the mites before, only the tites). They had one straw that was 5.4m long. Pretty amazing considering how thin the are. They also has some straws that were a couple of metres long that had football size lumps of calcite at the bottom. Those straws must be far stronger than they appear!

After the cave, we cruised the last 8km into Augusta, only to find the caravan park has shut up shop & gone to the spring fair after waiting an hr & a half (nice grassy spot by the river, so no hardship). Anyway, we eventually gave up & went to the info centre. Lady there said it seemed everyone had gone as she'd found other places closed also. Anyway she found us a 3 br house with water views fairly close to the centre of town that was fairly reasonable, so we grabbed that.

Tony is 'cooking' fish & chips tonight. I think I'll get him to pick me up a Chiko Roll however (would you believe that Cathy - a born & bred Aussie - has NEVER had a Chiko Roll).

Sunday October 24th, 2004 - Augusta (Photos)

Got up early this morning & went for a ride out to Cape Leuwin lighthouse, only to find it didn't open until 9am. Went to have a look at the waterwheel (1st pic), which is supposedly (believe it or not), the most photographed tourist attraction in W.A. All I can say is maybe it's because of the great scenery around it (pic 2 - although PDA pic may not give it justice. Once we had looked at that we went back to the lighthouse only to discover that the 9am tour was fully booked by a bus tour. Cathy & Tony decided to wait for the 9:30 tour, Rick & I had a wander around and then rode back. Quick shower & then back into town for a cruise up the river. The river is quite pretty & the cruise was quite pleasant.

Next stop was the Augusta Spring Show, which was primarily a flower show, with a bit of baking, woodwork, knitting, quilting etc. A pleasant little interlude where we were easily picked as visitors, with several people chatting to us and asking us where we were from (Augusta is a small town). Life is quieter here in W.A. And everyone is very friendly.

After all of the above, a bit of R & R at the house (pic 3), before heading off to get some memory cards burned to CD.

My last endeavour for today was to put together my bead spider that I bought in Margaret River (pic 4). Now it is time to relax...


Monday October 25th/26th, 2004 - Augusta to Chapman Pool to Valley Views (Photos)

A fairly good sleep last night at Chapman Pool. Leisurely start as we packed the tent etc. The tail winds of yesterday had gone, replaced with side & the occasional head-wind. Still no signal here, so this one (and yesterday's) won't go out until we get back to Busselton.

Today's ride was fairly undulating, with several hills. One 'exciting' section of dirt road that we did was covered in tiny pebbles that made it a bit like riding on ball bearings - with the camber on the road you kept sliding to the side.

We arrived at the Berry Farm and tasted jams, marmalades, chutneys & of course fruit wines! We picked up a bottle of Sparkling Strawberry wine (just finished), a bottle of Raspberry dessert wine (soon), and some Boysenberry Port (later). We also got some chutneys etc. After the tastings we had lunch at the restaurant. We were the FORCED (after watching two other tables) to have some scones with jam & cream, as the honeyeaters came and ate the remainder of the jam once you've finished your scones (obviously reasonably intelligent birds). We ended up having around 10 of them coming to our table.

After lunch, we managed to stuff everything into overstuffed panniers, and then had a nice country ride to the B&B, passing more curious cattle - these ones raced over to gawk at us...and then the ones at the front moved aside and let the ones at the back take a look - quite bizarre. Not much further along, a whole bunch of chickens raced over to me. I think the animals here have never seen cyclists!

The B&B that we are at is very nice. We are getting a 3-course meal here, and if all goes to plan, the mail will be roast lamb (yes, I said that I was rather partial to roast lamb, so the indicated that they would oblige). Guess I'll find out fairly soon as dinner is any minute now.

Yes, we did have roast lamb for dinner. In fact we had chicken & corn doup for entrée, the roast with lots of veges for main, and a lemon delicious for dessert. All in all a very nice meal.


Wednesday October 27th, 2004 - Valley Views to Busselton

Wednesday 's report is a tad late as I was suffering from hay fever (from hay!) last night, and not inclined to write.

Yesterday started with a big brekkie. Muesli, yoghurt & fruit for everyone but me - I had Coco Pops - we've had the other every other day. Following this was toast (home baked bread) with bacon, scrambled eggs, tomatoes , & mushrooms (passed onto Rick). Plenty to keep us going until we got to Busselton. Dilys decided to 'give it a go' today. She got a lift halfway, to where the road levelled out (therefore requiring minimal braking & gear changing).

The trip to Busselton was quick, with nothing much on the way - except farms & hay bales making life miserable for me (and Cathy & Tony). More silly cows where I had to prove to Dilys my magical 'cow whisperer' properties. When I started going "Here boy! Here boy!" she was sceptical - They're not dogs", but over they trotted :-)

Lunch at Busselton by the water - where we saw a dolphin - well Dilys saw a shark :-)

We picked up the car, left the bikes and drove to Canal Rocks where we saw sunset over the west coast (first for me).

After dinner I went to recharge my PDA and got the dreaded 'tap screen to begin setup' - yes the blasted thing had done a hard reset! Lost everything....

Thursday October 28th, 2004 (Photos)

Day started well (not) when I ran over a shingleback lizard (a not uncommon fate for these fellows). After that we went and had a look at Canal Rocks. Very nice area. Next stop was Cape Naturaliste for a tour of the lighthouse. From the top we saw several whales off the coast. More whales at Sugarloaf Rock - this time fairly close and as we arrived, one breached 3 times.

Caught one shot in 0's & 1's (ie digital pic).

After this it was on to the Yallingup Brewery for lunch & beer tasting. While lunching, we got a call from J&M who will apparently be in Perth by now! Man have they covered some k's in the last 3 weeks.

From the brewery we went to a gallery, where Dilys bought a ring, Cathy & Tony bought a wooden box. Rick and I didn't buy anything. Not that there weren't things we didn't like, but of these, none was under $3000, so....

Not long after this another Shingleback tried to commit suicide under the wheels of the car again, but this time I managed to avoid him.

From here to the Lavender Farm where we sniffed many things, and had a coffee & lavender scones (bad move so soon after lunch).

Eventually we got Dilys to a winery for some tasting, and we found another incredibly long driveway - fortunately this time we were in the car so we didn't care. After the lavender stuff etc all wine smelt terrible to me so I didn't bother tasting (I was also the DD so was only planning to try one or two anyway).

Tonight we are at Gracetown. I think a better name would be Graceplace as town is just a little generous. Dinner sourced from the caravan park shop. If we were hungry, we would have had to go further afield for dinner, however as we're not, I'm having baked beans on toast, and the others scrambled eggs (not enough eggs for everyone, and I felt more like baked beans).

That's about all for now except for the story on thd news. A convicted drug dealer claimed a tax deduction on a dodgy deal where he lost money, after the tax department wanted tax on his drug earnings. It got taken to court & he won as he lost the money doing his 'business'.

Well everyone had their scrambled eggs, but I didn't end up having my baked beans as I wasn't hungry. Still too full of lavender scones!


Friday October 29th, 2004

Today we are doing the gourmet thing. First stop was the Boranup Forest Gallery. Saw some nice tables - only $13,000ish. We the took a drive along the Boranup Forest Drive, and had another look at the trees. The next stop was Voyager Winery and we are now back at Xanadu (stopped here on our bikes). Today we are having lunch here, and Dilys will do a bit of tasting. After lunch, we will go to the Margaret River Cheese Company, and then back to Busselton to hand back the car.

Car is now handed back & we have met up with John & Marlene. Travel to the other side of the continent & you meet up with your (almost) neighbors. Told them they got here two weeks late for the bike trip.

We are now all scoffing cheese (from the cheese co), wine (from the winery & beer (from the bottle shop..)