Letter 1 from Huw Kingston on his way to Darwin
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Read Letter 2: Carnarvon to Broome
Read Letter 3: Update from Drysdale River Homestead
Read Letter 4: Farewell to Western Australia
29th April, 2003
It warms the cockles of a Welsh boy's heart to arrive in Carnarvon 1000km north of Perth. A bit different to the Carnarvon in North Wales except they're both on the coast!
So 3 weeks out of Perth which I Ieft on 9th April. Starting to get in the rhythm of the journey now altho it was a little stuttered to begin with. Wendy and I arrived in Perth, me still trying to get my back into some sort of order after having put it out 10 days before. I didn't think I'd make it to the start line! Luckily the friends we were staying with in Perth included Jocelyn, one of Perth's finest sports physios. She gave me some magical treatments and that in combination with mind over matter had me riding away from the Bell Tower (where I'd left from en route to Adelaide 2 years earlier) accompanied by Mike who took me on a tour of the backstreets 15km to Cottesloe Beach. It was a gorgeous blue sky and sea day and I was looking forward to getting on the water. We unloaded the sea kayak at the surf club and I changed out of bike knicks into paddle shorts. And West Australian sensibilities caught me out 'I have to give you an official warning for exposing yourself on the beach' said the lifeguard. 'I've had a
complaint from some old people on the promenade'. We all laughed and I headed north - 6000km to go.
Within 1km the dolphins were with me, and the day passed paddling up the coastal sprawl that is every Australian city. One final night at Burns Beach with Wendy; that horrible saying goodbye on the following morning knowing we won't see each other for nearly 4 months.
Another good day before the storm hit - 70/80km winds for 2 days. So Two Days for me at Two Rocks, a cray fishing port and marina featuring what must be the ugliest shopping centre in WA. All built by that Alan Bond
fellow, who entertained ideas of originally defending the America's Cup at Two Rocks. It was frustrating to be grounded so early on on the trip. I took shelter in the Sea Rescue building after the tent was flattened.
With Mike and Jon meeting me on the 14th, I was not going to get as far as Cervantes, so aimed for Lancelin and had a good few days paddle up to there between lonely narrow beaches and rocky reefs offshore. Not having
originally planned to ride from Lancelin to Cervantes I had no decent maps but was determined to fnd a route thru the dunes to pass the famous Pinnacles. The local tourist office was not much use just telling me twice to let down my tyres and that there was no fuel along the way, despite me telling her twice I was on a bike not a 4wd!! I wanted to avoid the worst of the beach and dune riding (pushing?) so decided to keep taking tracks and wheel ruts that headed north, not west. This sort of worked but after 9 hours I sort of knew where I was but........A night camped with the worst ticks ever - spent most pf the night pulling at least 80 off my body. The following morning tracks ran out onto paddocks and eventually to an abandoned homestead (luckily with water). I was where
I sort of thought and had actually missed the Pinnacles and Cervantes sort of altogether!
Once on the blacktop I had 700km of increasingly desperately boring road to ride. There was little option on this section of the journey than to stick to the main roads, stick the head down and go. As far as Dongara along the
coast was fine but from there to Geraldton and on north just was flat and uninspiring. An interesting thought though. Riding thru a desert on a dirt track with no traffic has great pleasures - the silence, the feeling of space and loneliness. Add traffic, tarmac and flavoured milk every 100km and it just becomes a grind. Today counting 47 VB cans, 38 Coke bottles, 12 Harvey Norman Electrical catalogues, 3 Hustler magazines (yeah the reading matter on Australia's highways is pretty average!). I was covering 125km or so a day and at least meeting some good folks, many of whom had heard of the trip and the 4Wheels4Sean fundraising from radio/newspaper pieces. Some good donations along the way.
The day's were averaging 30 degrees plus and it only ever rained when I didn't put the fly on the tent. It was a relief to ride into Denham and get ready for the paddle through the Shark Bay World Heritage area over to Carnarvon. Helen and Stewart had transported my kayak and gear to Denham where they were holidaying. Despite most West Australian's love affair with the ocean (I'm sure fishing is on the school curriculum right up there with maths and science) they are all convinced that we're all about to be eaten or bitten by sharks, sea snakes, cone shells, stonefish and, further north, crocs. Despite the paucity of actual attacks they all seem to have evidence and where possible try and relate that to kayaks! The 5 day, 190km paddle was great - firstly up and around Cape Peron before a 45km open crossing to the Mainland. For the most part the waters are very shallow - if you fancied a break you could just climb out and stand next to your kayak (if you dared!). Turtles, dugongs, dolphins were around but no large sharks I'm sorry to report. From Cape Peron to Carnarvon I saw no-one and for the last couple of days had the 20knot wind up my back making for great paddling downwind.
Getting into Carnarvon harbour was probably the lumpiest seas of the trip. Arrived here on Sunday afternoon to be greeted by Lee; local hospital radiographer, kayaker and Guinness afficionado. These trips rely so much on local assistance and Lee was another to step up to the plate, right down to organizing flowing Guinness for 2 days, free meals at the local pub and great hospitality. A day organizing gear (and freighting the kayak to Broome which must go south 1000km to Perth before heading north again!).
Now it's time to head inland to see some hills; ride up the Gascoyne River and pick my way thru to Mt Augustus (supposedly the biggest rock in the world - eat your heart out Ayers Rock) and into the mighty gorge country of
the Hammersley Ranges to start walking. Looking forward to it!
More from somewhere up north
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