Day 29 : Tuesday – From Moora to Beyond Eneabba (155.23 km)
I left Moora and headed down the road to Dondaragan for about eleven kilometres before turning onto the North-East Road to Badgingarra. The road proved to be very slow going, with lots of uphills. In truth there were serial ups and downs, but my legs were aware only of the uphills.The scenery was spectacular with rolling farmlands of wheat, sheep and cattle interspersed with areas of conserved indigenous vegetation. A pleasant ride, made even more so by the fact that the traffic was very light and I had sole ownership of the road for long stretches. I was able to mentally lose myself in my surroundings. Actually it was probably more of a fatigue-induced haze.
On reaching Badgingarra I turned north onto the Brand Highway and immediately picked up the benefit of a strengthening tailwind. The highway was much busier than the back roads that we had used for the first part of the morning, with both commercial traffic in the form of trucks and road trains and also numerous family cars towing trailers or boats. Some folk apparently take an extended Easter break.
The road continued to be hilly, but the hills were definitely more gradual than those on the backroads and I had the benefit of the fresh wind moving up from the south. A tailwind always helps to flatten the uphills. My speed picked up appreciably as my legs revelled in having the air moving along in the same direction as they were.
I took my usual break at one hundred kilometres and then cycled on to Eneabba, grateful for the short day. Alas, Jane found that there was no caravan park at Eneabba! She established that there was one just twenty kilometres further north. This was not good news. When you think that you are done cycling for the day your legs go into their fireside mode quite quickly and do not wish to be further troubled.
But after just a short break it was onto the bike again. Twenty-two kilometres further on I reached the sign marking the caravan park that we had been told about and we bussed the bike the eight hundred metres down a very sandy road to what turned out to be a very pleasant caravan park.
We were given quite a thrill at the caravan park by the sighting of numerous white-tailed black cockatoos, apparently rather rare and on the endangered list. Quite handsome they are.
Day 30 : Wednesday – From Beyond Eneabba to Dongara (56.52 km)
The last day and just sixty kilometres to go! We left the Caravan Park a little later than our usual start, at about six forty-five, after arranging for the manager to open the gates for us at that time. A short drive up to the main road and then it was back onto the bike. There was little wind to start on this cloudless morning and when the wind did come up a little later it was once again from the south. The road rose and fell gently and progress was fairly quick, buoyed as I was by the thought of completing the journey. The Brand Highway passed through fairly thick bushveld, and the area was more rural than I expected, with several turnoffs to the coast that lay just a few kilometres to the west.
With just twenty kilometres to go I encountered the first serious yobbos of the entire trip. A car overtook me and the passenger in the front seat leaned out of the window and yelled something that I found completely incomprehensible. I waved politely. The driver had hooted as he approached from behind, so I had checked that I was at the edge of the road and not in any way infringing on the roadway. When the car was about two hundred metres ahead of me it slowed and performed a U-turn, coming back past me, this time with the passenger inverted, his feet sticking out of the window. A few minutes later I heard a car coming up behind me very slowly. As it passed the passengers hurled empty beer cans at me. One hit my shoulder and bounced into my face, but no harm was done. Presumably satisfied and well entertained by their behaviour, they sped off on their way.
Twelve kilometres from Dongara I turned west onto a road that led to the coast. Almost immediately I crested a rise and was presented with my first sight of the Indian Ocean in the distance. After twenty-eight days of incessant pedal-turning it was almost an emotional moment.
I stopped for a cup of tea just a few kilometres from the end, perhaps sub-consciously drawing out the moment, then it was on to Port Denison, the little harbour adjacent to Dongara, and the finish.
Mission accomplished! Jane waited, camera rolling, on the esplanade just a few metres from the water’s edge and it was a very special moment.
All in all a very successful Odyssey. The route was covered three days ahead of schedule without incurring any injury whatsoever and I suffered no mechanical problems, save for a few punctures. A satisfactory pace was maintained throughout, with the fastest two days of the trip being that final two days, during which I was helped by the southerly wind. The total distance covered was just eighty-eight kilometres less than planned.
At Port Denison we stayed at what was probably the most luxurious caravan park that we had stayed in since arriving in Australia, with an en suite bathroom and a storeroom provided for our own private use. In the evening we went to a restaurant called the Octopus’s Garden where we shared a celebratory bottle of champagne.
This was a long cycle and it really would not have been possible without the wonderful support from Jane throughout the trip. I know that there are solo-cyclists who do long trips on their own, with panniers full of kit, but having Jane to take care of logistics, to organize camp sites and food, to massage tired legs and to offer encouragement when the headwind was howling made the trip infinitely more enjoyable than it would have been on my own. Thank you, Jane. I remain deeply indebted.
Total distance covered 4567 km