My tent was a little damp through the night … pitching on fake grass under the verandah was not ideal.
We are battling head winds again so it makes a tough 54km. Through the lakes is low brush and the side/head wind rips through. It’s like cycling 100km.
Its a nice very clean town, some modern shops. We are lucky to have a tour of the Australian Inland Mission Hospital Museum. The hotel has recently had new owners and a Chinese banquet is on offer … there is a lot of local interest. The food was great just a little disorganised … I’m hoping they get it together.
A quiet night … no trucks, warm but not hot and dry tents. We woke up to no electricity. My porridge soon morphed into muesli – just add sultanas and nuts.
Main topic this morning was wind direction, possible rain … strange how every weather app differs. ‘It is what it is’ … and it was!!
The wind was relentless … head and side wind … my early start was to escape they predicted strong winds as the day went on.
It was tough from the start … crossing over dry salt lake with no protection, however the lakes were quite spectacular as the sun glistened on the salt crystals. Areas of bush were welcome for a little wind protection. I arrived at Newdegate around noon as the wind speed increased, cyclists still on the road had a hard time of it as the winds exceeded 50km/hr; the last 10kms always the hardest. … The local general store and cafe was the first port of call … choices … I’m too exhausted to make a decision, the assistant looked at me a little strangely … I later learned that most of us presented in the same exhausted manner … haha … the joys of cycling.
The wind became more gust as the day progressed … The weather radar predicted rain some time later that evening. The caravan park is very basic … this area is ticked one box away from ‘drought’ few resort to cabins … we are able to erect tent on verandahs.
‘Will it rain tonight?’ The big question … The locals are mixed … ‘I hope so!’ It is so dry they would love a good downpour. A meal at the tavern and on return a few rain drops. Through the night we had just over 4mm, not much but a start for the locals.
Great day in Ravensthorpe as I unravel a family puzzle. George Dance known for paving the way from Esperance to Ravensthorpe and beyond; making roads and scooping dams amongst much more achievements in the area; was my Great grandfather. What a find.
With the puzzle solved … there is a lot ot offer here … beautiful scenery from the centre(top) of town of the escarpment. A lolly factory with all that could satisfy any sweet tooth.
A lot of angst for the long ride … searching temperatures, wind direction and gradient.
Our full pannier tour has evolved during the tour inception. A relaxation of tent and camping equipment to be carried in Brian’s ute. During the course of the tour other items have been smuggled on board to lighten the load on our bike, however there are a few stalwarts riders who have kept to the original full pannier tour … hats off to them!!! So today most of us have chosen to put all our gear on the ute.
We weren’t prepared for the heavy fog that blanketed us this morning. The plan was to get up early and beat the heat, predicted in high 20s/30. The tents were so wet it may as well be raining. Oh well … they will dry out on the other end. I broke a tent pole the following night and had a temporary fix that sort of worked.
Of to the servo to pick up lunch … the fog is still very heavy, a driver stops and says the 6 cyclists he saw on the road we very visible so we chose to take off. At time I’m not sure if I’m going up or down … the fog is so thick you can’t tell. I’m getting drips on my face from my helmet. The bush on either side of the road is spectacular as the sun shimmers through large cobwebs laden with heavy dew; I’m back in fairyland … horizontal webs look like fairy beds.
The fog lifts at 8.30am and the country is visible again … some farms have unique entrances which occupies the long straight undulating road. I make a plan to stop every 20km or so. The traffic increases in both directions … it must be moving day for caravans as they head to their next holiday destination.
It’s great to see the 30km to Ravensthorpe sign … I sit on the roadside … no ants or flies … my ham and salad rolls hits the spot, another hill ahead. The view becomes more spectacular as the escarpment envelopes me. On the right is the Fitzgerald National Park, then a big decent as I cross the Phillips River; not to mention the steep climb up … my garmin takes forever to go from 99km to 100km as I crawl up the hill … a memorial site is a good stop to relieve the legs for the next 20kms to Ravensthorpe … it’s 30C and I’ve done in excess of 100km … is it psychological or I’m just tired … it’s becoming hard work. A few more hills and a painted silo in view … lovely site and I’m here in Ravensthorpe.
Rolling hills today an early 8am start, it’s ANZAC Day, so time for reflection. Passing some nice green paddocks, I think they are crops, also a scattering of sheep. I am driven to my left as I see a cloud of dust … in a far paddock a tractor is busy … possibly seeding is taking place … no rest for farmers.
I catch up to Jen and we ride together, a head/ side wind makes the ride a little harder than yesterday. The trees on the roadside provide some dappled shade, the very attractive pin cushion hakea is prevalent and flowering. A bike light in the distance behind us keep us entertained as we try to get our distance. The leisurely 40km has now become a little more competitive.
We arrive in Jerramungup … a nice welcome entrance sign … the roadhouse is open and staffed ready to provide lunches, dinner and lunch for tomorrow. The country folk are so accommodating. Our camping ground is natural bush so we are all spread out enjoying the shade from the trees.
A very quick early ride today. The store in Ongerup closes at midday so there is an urgency to get any supplies; it is a long weekend it’s ANZAC Day tomorrow.
I set out at 8am, the tent was dry on pack up with an overcast sky. The early start gives a lovely hue to the many salt lakes I pass. The sun’s reflection glisten on the water and dry salt. It is very dry, I pass an under nourished crop with tinges of yellow, it looks like it needs a good drink.
The tailwind made the time fly by; however the beauty of the lakes are worthy of a several photos.
I enter Shire of Gnowangarup coined ‘the Heart of the Stirlings’. Small undulations and out of nowhere I see the silhouette of the Stirling Ranges a lovely sight.
The store is well equipped in Ongerup and the Community Research Centre and Yongergnow Australian Malleefowl Centre, is a great place for coffee and light snacks, the staff are prepared for the onslaught of 40 cyclists. The caravan park is comfortable … no upgrade tonight. We pre-warn the hotel presence … what would normally be a quiet Saturday night, the hotel has extra staff the us providing great meals.
The cloud cover made it a nice cool ride. Leaving Katanning with a coffee at the Dome; situated on the street level of the Premier Mill Hotel which is a beautifully restored, iconic former flour mill.
We pass the sheep saleyards and heading out of town paddocks with sheep … I wonder if they were the cheap $90 sheep at the sales yesterday fattening up to gain a good price in six weeks.
It’s still very dry with patches of green in paddocks, it looks like some farmers have sown their crops. Areas of sandy soil with salt bushes and dead trees. We pass many dried salt lakes and stop at Ewlyamartup Lake, a large salt lake 17km from Katanning; its set up with information plaques and picnic areas.
Nyabing is very small with a small store and Community Hub … quite a story is associated with how the Hub was established. We are camped at the Rec Centre … lovely grassed oval and just a short walk to the Hub where most of us are eating … a great night out.
The day starts with a ride to the Sheep Saleyards … its a big day and sheep are selling for the best prices ever. Business is booming as we wander around the lots as sheep are being auctioned and drafted through the pens. We chat to an agent who is very obliging with a commentary of the mornings events. Well worth the visit.
Katanning hosts a street art trail that was completed in November 2017; seven days, five murals and seven transformer boxes later, plus a series of youth workshops, the job was done. The colour and variety of the styles show how even the humblest wall or object can be transformed by art.
With map in hand we were off on our bikes to discover the artwork.
On our travels we found the Kobeelya Conference and Accommodation Centre; talking to the gardener who gave us some history and opened it up for us to view the accommodation. The centre was built in 1902 and was home to the renowned Frederick Henry Piecce. The building has had many guises in it’s long history.
Back on the art trail through the town.
It’s time to venture to the All Ages Playground and play on the variety of slides and equipment in this beautifully manicured park. I mustn’t do too much as I’ll be back later this year on the On Your Bike CTA tour.
A slight misty rain to start the morning and dampen the tent, by the time breakfast is done the tent is almost dry for pack up.
A very slight incline over the ride today with last 8km some undulations before we arrive in Katanning. On the way we stop at the impressive town of Woodanalling. There has been some great local work to put the town on the map with plaques showing the sites of old building of years gone by. The town houses a general store, Mens’ Shed, School and CWA. A few new houses indicative of a regeneration of the town.
Onward to Katanning for our first rest day …
Katanning lays claim to being the second most multicultural town in WA, with over 40 nationalities represented among its 4300 people. We are welcomed with the choice of many international cuisine cafes.
At this part of the tour we are joined by more riders as we also say goodbye to others … the interchange as some partners join for the rest day. The Royal Exchange Hotel is busy with most of us eating there tonight.
A little head wind today but nice low kms … the roads were a little busier with a good shoulder and obliging drivers. Leaving Narrogin a French bakery caught my eye along with others … a huge croissant had to be sampled. The small town of Highbury was another stop … you have to take advantage of anything that looks open as you never know when you will see the next toilet or shop.
Our camp is at the showgrounds and I’m there by midday … the town has a few closed shops (I wonder if this is due to Covid or natural attritian of a country town) and 2 small supermarkets open. Wagin is the home of the Giant Ram which stands 30 feet tall to the entrance of town.
The local cafe supplies great rolls for lunch however the barista is on a break, we are guided to another location … Shane the coffee shop owner has closed, but he’s soon found and disappears for 10 minutes to get his keys to open. Shane is one of the locals who is the mortar in a town like this. He knows everyone runs a framing business when not entertaining the locals over a coffee. He doesn’t put out the ‘open’ sign as he’s afraid he’ll get more walk ins! He is quick to give a mobile number of one of the ‘ CTA Wagin girls’ and within half an hour the 2 local girls have joined us and several other of our cyclists … Shane joins in the banter.
The kitchen facitilities are great so a night in with supermarket pre cooked meal and games of Bananagrams.