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You call this summer?

Posted January 3rd, 2009

262km Devonport to Gowrie Park

On the beach on Tassie's northern coastlineWe rolled off the ferry in Devonport, a small coastal town (well, we call it a town – the tourist literature describes it as a city) on Tasmania’s northern shore.

After 10 hours on the boat – a crossing often noted as one of the roughest in the world – we took a while to get our land legs back. In fact, it was well after midday when we finally felt the earth had stopped spinning. So as the world was turning around us, we thought we heard wrong when a bus driver waiting for passengers started going on about snow.

“There’s going to be snow above 800 meters tonight,” he said, before slipping an offer to put our bikes on the bus for just a few bucks. Snow?? Wait a minute. This is the southern hemisphere and we are in summer. What in the world…? (more…)

It’s the small things in life

Posted December 30th, 2008

Train: Perth to Melbourne

“Would you like this?”
The Goodship Angus
We looked up from our train seats to find Angus smiling at us. A young fellow with blond hair to match the golden fields outside the windows and a face full of freckles, he was holding out a picture of a boat he’d drawn.

“Well, thanks Angus,” we said, both surprised and touched by our unexpected gift. For the next hour we watched Angus work the carriage, giving out a picture to nearly everyone on board. The couple next to us put a sketch of his family up on the window. The woman in the seat ahead grinned broadly and then folded her rainbow drawing carefully into her purse.

Angus brought a smile to quite a few faces that afternoon and reminded us that sometimes the simplest things in life, the smallest gesture of generosity, can create great joy. If the lack of snow dampened our Christmas spirits, then it’s people like Angus who have lifted them back up. (more…)

Show 22: An Australian Christmas

Posted December 22nd, 2008

DawnRiders2.JPGIt’s that time of year again, although it’s hard to feel that Christmas spirit when there’s no snow on the ground.

The Christmas lights are up and Santa is on every lawn here in Australia but for us, it just seems like April, when the weather is warming up, the grass is turning green and you realise you still haven’t taken down the decorations!

On their trikesStill, we did get into the swing of things in the last couple of days when we visited Andrew & Joanne Hooker, two Aussies who have ridden their recumbent tricycles all around Australia and through North America.

Here’s their story, along with a quick update on what we’re up to over the festive season. Merry Christmas everyone!


Culture Shock

Posted December 20th, 2008

377km Manjimup to Waikiki

Gloucester TreeTime passes so quickly. When we were sitting on the beaches of Yallingup, just staring at the waves crashing on the rocks, we felt we could have stayed forever. A few short days later and we’re nearly back in Perth – back in civilization with its grand homes and green lawns, a supermarket and a frothy cappuccino shop on every corner.

Cycling around the country towns and quiet woodlands of rural Western Australia, we felt we were readjusting to life in the developed world just fine. Gorgeous national parks and isolated camping combined with a barbecue and toilets in every little village was the perfect mix of nature and nurture for two wandering cyclists.

But returning to the city after two weeks of camping, it’s hard not to feel a bit adrift. One of the things a long bike trip does to you is that it greatly simplifies your life. What you can’t carry in four bags on your bicycle, you just don’t need. Food, warmth and a safe place to sleep are your only requirements. It’s like being a baby again.

Just go straightAnd if then, on top of that, you spend the better part of the last year, as we have, cycling through less developed countries, you feel your needs shrinking even more. You see people every day who make do and raise families on only the barest of resources and you start to look like the rich one – you with what you thought was a humble bicycle and a few meager bags. (more…)

Into the wind

Posted December 15th, 2008

340km Busselton to Manjimup

I'm the king of the castle...We get a late start out of Busselton – the biggest tourist town in this part of Australia. People just can’t resist those white, sandy beaches and the area apparently triples in size over Christmas.

Our late start isn’t down to sightseeing. The trendy cafes are out of our budget and we definitely don’t need a Busselton t-shirt. We just can’t drag ourselves out of bed. The relentless wind since we left Perth never seems to turn in the right direction. It’s worn us down.

Two pots of coffee later, we finally get going and for the first few kilometers the cycling is straight out of a dream. We’re on a beautiful bike path by the teal green ocean and the wind hasn’t yet kicked in.

When the bike path ends, however, the whole situation turns around. We are unceremoniously dumped onto a busy highway with no shoulder. Most cars are courteous and leave enough space as they pass but the few vehicles that cut it fine make us nervous.

We spend the next half hour with our eyes glued to our mirrors, waving our hands as each car approaches to make sure they see us. Once or twice we can’t see any sign of movement so we make an emergency escape to the unpaved shoulder. This isn’t our idea of fun.

We’re happy when the next town appears and we can once again escape to more quiet roads. We cross our fingers for quieter cycling ahead as we sort out a few chores. With the post office visited, the grocery shopping done and emails checked, we’re off again.

Our afternoon plan is to head to a microbrewery, where they have free BBQs for customers to use. What an idea! We are very tempted to try some local beer and even more so if we don’t have to buy an expensive meal. Rain clouds are gathering overhead, but we decide to go for it anyway. (more…)