Six weeks and nearly 4,000 kilometers and we finally reach our first real Australia city: Perth!  To say that distances in the outback are vast is to state the obvious.   Never before have we biked a region so remote.

After just a few days in urban surroundings, the lonely highway slicing through the barren land is already becoming a blurry memory of struggle against heat, headwinds and repetition.  A steady stream of podcasts was the best antidote against boredom with the bush.

 

 

A long, hot slog through Western Australia.

We encountered, of course, places of sublime beauty.  Karijini National park with its crystal clear rock pools and beautiful gorges.  The rocky outcrops and red earth of the Pilbara region.  And eventually the  stunning sand dunes and turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean coast.

Daily magic was found at sunrise and sunset.  The hours in between were, well, tiresome at times.  Thankfully, Australia shows her true beauty at least twice daily.

 

A twisted tree in karijini National Park.

 

 

Wild flowers in bloom near the mining settlement of Tom Price.

 

Bicycle touring through the beautiful Pilbara region.

 

Sand dunes on the Turquoise coast north of Perth.
Strong southerly winds cause the trees along the coast to bend--also known to cause extreme cursing in cyclists

 

We crossed paths mostly with truckies (as the drivers of those massive road trains are referred to), grey nomads (Australia’s version of snow birds), fifo’s (those mine workers with massive salaries –even cleaning staff make upwards of $100,000–who fly in and fly out of the region), and backpackers (young people on working holiday visas who drive around in vans and may or may not have a backpack in their possession).  All we encountered expressed various degrees of pity ( I don’t know how you can stand the heat) and admiration (hat’s off to you) regarding  our outback cycling endeavor.

 

Even the hitchhikers are friendly!

When it came to our need to top up on water, all were eager to help.  At settlements and roadhouses (what I’d call truck stops) we’d weight down the bikes with around 8 liters of water each.  With temps soaring up to 100 Fahrenheit (over 40 Celsius) we’d deplete theserations fairly soon.  No matter.  It sufficed to pull over, lift up an empty water bottle and rest assured the next vehicle came to a screeching halt and replenished our supplies.  Sometimes we even scored a cold coke or some snacks.

Most nights we’d even track down somebody with a caravan and a big tank who’d fill up our 10 liter water bladder.  That meant I’d get a cold shower under the stars and a chance to wash away the day’s sweat and grime.  Bush camping has been one of the great delights of biking through the outback.  The silence and simplicity of pitching up next to a sand dune our sneaking off behind a rocky outcrop surrounded by emptiness is something close to sublime.

Pedaling into Perth was cause for celebration: we’d made it through the outback!  We’ve spent the last few days being spoiled by Antony (a long-time blog follower) and his lovely family.  Ah, the simple joy of a soft bed, a hot shower, a fast internet connection and a full fridge.  Not to mention the excellent company.

Next up is Australia’s Southwest , a place of powerful waterfalls, towering forests, and rugged coastline.  Then it’ll be back to the big empty as we cross the vast Nullarbor plain before winding down part 1 of our Australia tour in Melbourne.

 

A few thousand kilometers separate us from Melbourne (where we'll catch a flight to New Zealand on 10 December) so we need to keep on pedaling!

 

End of the Outback

14 thoughts on “End of the Outback

  • Christopher in Aotearoa NZ
    October 25, 2012 at 10:20 AM
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    I think it wonderful that you have done this! I am hoping to do something similar within the next few years – because I want to experience the outback (I live in NZ).

    Well done, and I’m looking forward to the next installment of your adventure!

    Reply
    • World Biking
      October 25, 2012 at 11:55 PM
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      Hope your travel dreams come true–outback riding is rough but worth the effort.

      Reply
  • Cromwell in Kissimmee, FL
    October 25, 2012 at 1:07 PM
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    Thanks for sharing your adventure. Reading it helps make me feel as if I were there along with you. It also gives me a small ember of hope for the future. I’m afraid the poor economy has done me in and the future looks pretty bleak. Since I’m wiped out financially and looking at real possibility of being homeless, I’m thinking, what the hell? Why not travel the world as a biking hobo? I have nothing left to lose. So, we shall see how things play. Perhaps one day our paths may cross on a lonely stretch of road in a far away place with a strange sounding name.

    Reply
    • World Biking
      October 25, 2012 at 11:55 PM
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      The nomadic life of a two-wheeled traveller just might suit you–lots of photo opportunities and a daily cast of new characters to star in your creations.

      Reply
  • Ant
    October 25, 2012 at 2:56 PM
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    It was an honour to host you two, after following your travels around the world for so long. Five years ago when I said , rather flippantly , that if you were ever in Australia you should visit, I didn’t think it would actually happen, and the last few days has been great, especially “helping” Eric to fix his bike, I really felt as if we were part of your journey.
    I will find it very difficult tomorrow not to follow you as you ride toward the south west, one day Catherine and I will do a bike tour, but maybe not quite as adventurous as yours. Keep on taking beautiful photos of your travels , ride safe.

    Reply
    • World Biking
      October 25, 2012 at 11:53 PM
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      It was a real pleasure to meet up with you after so many years of sporadic contact. Thanks to you and your family, We leave Perth rested, rejuvenated and ready to face the road again–many thanks!

      Reply
    • World Biking
      November 2, 2012 at 8:52 AM
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      We are so happy to have finally met you after years of sporadic correspondence. I’m certain a family tour is in the cards for you have surely passed on the adventure bug to your girls. Thanks again for the warm hospitality!

      Reply
  • jean-marc
    October 26, 2012 at 8:38 AM
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    Congratulation for your crossing . I am now in Norseman , at the beginning of the nullarbor highway , but going north toward Laverton . I am having coffee with Jack , a British RTW cyclist going to go nullarbor to take the plane to New Zealand around the 5th of december . May be you will meet . Long days of ride , but beautifull country and plenty of wildlife ,specially birds .
    Enjoy it all
    Jean-Marc
    Jack : zac@zacplusbike.com

    Reply
  • Fiona
    October 29, 2012 at 2:26 PM
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    Hello
    I have just discovered your amazing blog and journey, then saw it mentioned you were coming down the WA coast. We would have offered a place to stay like we have done many times before but realise now you’ve already passed through Geraldton. Then I saw your photos and realised we passed you just over a week ago south of Dongara on the coast road- we slowed down and said hello as we drove by. Inspiring stories- great work. We cycled through Europe last year for 7 months we our kids so have the bug! Sorry to have missed you. http://www.4bikes1tent.org

    Reply
    • World Biking
      November 2, 2012 at 8:49 AM
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      Wow, that’s amazing that we crossed paths by chance! You are blessed to call such a beautiful part of the world home.

      Reply
  • arby
    November 4, 2012 at 6:13 PM
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    The most envy-provoking part for me was the mention of bush camping. You have the the world’s best view of our galactic home. Dark skies away from interfering city lights, seeing deep into the heart of the Milky Way, a view not possible in the northern hemisphere.
    However, your brief mention of the flies (in your mass email) tempers my envy a little. I remember camping in a wetter part of Oz, and as the sun set the constant hum of the flies died down, and the nearby grasses and weeds bent to the ground with their shoulder-to-shoulder weight as they bedded down for the night. Then the higher-pitched whine of bazillions of mosquitoes arose around us. There were a couple of good minutes in there, though. I hope you guys have many good moments, rb

    Reply
  • Bufff3y
    November 7, 2012 at 6:49 PM
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    Hi guys,

    Eric looks like a blur going through Tom Price. He must have been really moving!!

    Glad you are enjoying Australia. I’ll be back there in December – Bariloche right now.

    Stay safe,
    Buff3y

    Reply
    • World Biking
      November 15, 2012 at 9:08 PM
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      Hard to believe you’ve nearly cycled the length of the Americas–an early congrats on that! Would love to meet up with you when we return to Australia in March.

      Reply
  • sarah
    November 21, 2012 at 5:46 AM
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    I never really thought about visiting Australia, but your pictures and descriptions of the deserted outback are stunning!! Sounds like the cycling was tough, but the wild camping looks beautiful.

    Reply

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