Down the West Coast in style!

Broome to Perth – 2400km in 5 days, 2nd – 7th October 2012

Cycle touring in Australia is tough. It’s a very unique country with some incredible places to see, but to do it by bike takes some doing and some time too. To most people the idea of cycling around OZ is crazy. A ridiculous idea – I mean it can take you 6 months to do it in a car and even that could be considered rushing! So why do it on a bike? Why choose the hard way when you could be sitting in the luxury of your very own air conditioned bubble, away from the heat and the flies, as you cruise from one spot to the next?!

Well, it was in this very bubble of our Nissan Xtrail that we sat, listening to Paul Simon Graceland, cruising at 100kmph when we came upon Thomas, a Dutch guy we had met on the Gibb River Road, who is riding his bike around OZ. We were somewhere between Broome and Port Hedland on a stretch of road that is well known in Australia for being one of the most boring. Over 500km of long straight road with little change in scenery, and to make things worse, a roaring headwind!  There were no other cars on the road so we slowed and pulled up alongside him. Tami buzzed the electric window down and smiled. He did a double take and almost fell off his bike! ‘What the hell are you guys doing in a car??’

Actually, expecting to see him, we had prepared a cold can of coke and some biscuits. We stood on the side of the road chatting and swatting at the flies for a short while. We explained that we weren’t complete wusses; that it had never been our intention to ride from Broome to Perth and that when we discovered that we could relocate a rental car for next to nothing, it made much more sense than flying. The Nissan cost us a dollar a day and we just paid for the fuel! He was doing good but said it was tough riding out of Broome into the wind. He had changed his chunky marathon XR’s for a slicker road style tyre though and said that after the Gibb River road he did not intend to ride on unsealed roads anymore! We topped up his water and said our farewells. We would be in Perth about a month before him so it was unlikely our paths would cross again!

I felt a small sense of guilt as we roared away from Thomas. I watched in the rear view mirror as he became a tiny speck on the horizon before fizzling out into the haze. ! Driving in a car, your perspective is very different and I understood now why people told us we were mad, crazy or on the odd occasion stupid! But the fact is, what most drivers probably don’t understand as they fly past, is the perspective that the cyclist gets. You see the country in a completely different way and although boring and really hard at times, can be so rewarding at others – something you don’t get driving a car. I can’t say I was jealous of him; in fact quite the opposite (!), but I was already looking forward to getting back on the bike and starting the next stage of our Australian adventure. We were heading south to ride the Munda Biddi trail – Australia’s longest MTB trail (and one of the longest in the world at around 1000km) from Perth down to Albany on the South West coast.

A few facts..

Car Company: Stand by cars – a company who organise relocations for car rental companies. There are quite a few companies organising this kind of thing or sometimes you can even go direct to the rental company. It’s a great idea and works well in countries like Australia where people tend to drive from point A to B and not return to A. We paid $1 per day + a $25 service fee + all the fuel. Sometimes they offer to pay fuel costs but we weren’t so lucky.

Distance: 2700km (We took the coastal route and drove into Coral Bay and Kalbarri)

Time taken: 34 hours driving over 5 days (5 days was our time limit set by the rental company)

Total cost of fuel: $450 dollars

Highest price paid for petrol: $2 per litre (One of the road houses between Broome and Port Hedland – average price in Oz is about $1.40)

Number of road kill: 0 (lucky though, we almost hit a few kangaroos and a cow)

Longest day driving: 8 hours

Number of cyclists seen: 4 – Thomas, a guy on a recumbent towing trailer, and a couple on a tandem.

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6 Responses to Down the West Coast in style!

  1. Thomasin says:

    Good pics. I like the pink salt lake, and the ‘dual’ style shot of the wagon in the rear view mirror. Rowan says get rid of the bikes and go for the big car. Love Tom xx

  2. Sue Turner says:

    Good to see the blog again; judging by the pictures, it was the right call to drive that stretch – can`t imagine a deal of pleasure in cycling it. Is that you riding the big wave by the way?

  3. Karl Kopinski says:

    Great pics! Hope you’re both enjoying NZ, look forward to the next update, oh and happy new year to you both from us all here\

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