As promised I got in touch with my mate that has cycled around Australia and is now in New Zealand. Here are a few edited extracts from his emails ... sorry if it all seems a bit disjointed there was just too much to put all of it in!
n.b. these are Martins words...
Perth - Esperance
In a nutshell cycled through forests for 3 weeks then mixed agricultural
land and bush/scrub for a week. Can definitely confirm that Oz is not flat,
sunny and hot,dry but in this part at least cool, green, windy,damp and
hilly. Having a great time though and scenery is sometimes beautiful.
Been offered all kinds of help by motorists - hot and cold drinks, food, a
joint, even a call to the emergency services one day while I was tucking
into some bread by the roadside. Also plenty of advice and not just stop and
go home u stupid idiot. Time and time again they have been telling me it's
mad to cross the Nullarbor (a desert 1200km or so wide) by car never mind
bike cos of "the winds which can flip a caravan over" or "there's nothing
there" or "the road trains". In the end they quite convinced me and I was
going to catch the train between Albany and Adelaide.
ESPERANCE - CEDUNA 1/11/03 to 17/11/03 1820km to 3243km
Good things about the desert - flat, hardly any traffic, no mossies and
hardly any march flies (horrible big flies that bite to suck ur blood) also
quite beautiful at times in kind of a godforsaken way, esp at dusk and at
Having said that it must be about the hardest physical thing i've done.
After an easy, flat 200km through bush to Norseman where the desert begins
after the first couple of days in the desert I was wondering wot all the
fuss was about - undulating bush and trees with a gentle tail wind first day
then gentle headwind the second. Then the fun started! The vegitation died
away to a stunted scrub, the flat roads began and a 'moderate to fresh'
headwind whipped up and did not stop, reducing our speeds to an average of
12km/hr (we would expect to do 20km/hr plus on the flat in still conditions)
and at times dropping to an agonising 8km/hr - long hrs in the saddle (7hrs
plus) to cover the distances we wanted (100km approx a day).
After Eucla we entered S Australia and things changed quite abit - almost no
roadkill (must have a better cleaner upper!), the roads were smoother, good
scenery as the roads ran near to ocean cliffs for 200km or so and someone
turned on the fan oven! Caught us quite by suprise as temperatures raced up
to the mid 40's in the shade setting records for November while we were
between Eucla and Nullabor roadhouses with no shade! On the road we were
told the temperature was in the high 50's. We were gasping and dehydrated by
11am and Rob described it best by saying it was as though your life force
was ebbing away. We fortunately found a working public water tank and spent
all afternoon there filling our caps and ptting them on our head. Water
never felt so good. No shade though as all the wasps, hornets and flies of
the area were taking that - just where the tap happened to be of course!
When we started cycling again the headwinds had reappeared and we struggled
for 3 hrs at 8km/hr to a rest area so that we would be within reach of the
Nullarbor roadhouse next day. It was as I wrote in my diary, "a real *******
day". That night we slept under the stars (no tent) and started cycling at
night (1.30am) to avoid the wind and heat. Quite beautiful with no street
lights or traffic and silently gliding along under the bright starry night
and witnessing the sunrise.
CEDUNA - PORT AUGUSTA 17/11/03 to 27/11/03 3243km - 4053km
The Eyre penisula is a largely agricultural area. We cycled around it next
to the coast on the Flinders Highway, through picturesque gently rolling
golden wheatfields with the occasional ocean view. We stopped at small
fishing/holiday villages (Steaky bay, Elliston, Coffin Bay, Port Neil) late
afternoon for a swim or walk, a trip to the supermarket then to stuff
ourselves at a self service hotel restaurant.
PORT AUGUSTA - ADELAIDE 29/11/03 - 2/12/03 4053km - 4479km
Some of the best cycling so far as conditions were fairly kind for a change.
We climbed through the Flinders Mountain range (flies bad here - never seen
so many - Rob swallowed one and nearly spewed, hee hee!), sped through
gently rolling golden wheatfields at 30-55km/hr helped by tailwinds, passed
throgh the vinyards of the Clare and Barossa Valleys (wine tasting of
course) and slogged off road over the Adelaide hills then downhill to
Adelaide along spectacular winding gorge roads.
ADELAIDE to MELBOURNE 17/12/03 to 30/12/03 4529km to 5872km
I was expecting to get scorched by the Aussie summer on this leg. Not the
case as most days were cool to warm, overcast and with spells of heavy rain
and strong winds.
2 days hard cycling through the hills surrounding Adelaide and around the
Florieu peninsula. After that the gradients eased to flat to gently rolling
farmland, wetlands (including 140km on the edge of the Coorong a 140km long
lagoon, picture 4) and forestry softwood plantations. Winds were mostly
favourable so fairly easy fast going. Not a great deal of interest though
apart from a couple of pretty seaside villages (Robe, Beachport) and a cool
seaside town (Warrnambool).
On the 26th December I reached the great Ocean Road to Melbourne and the
scenery became allot more spectacular for 5 days. The road rolled
strenuously on cliff tops at first with fine ocean views (picture 5), then
darted inland for some very serious climbing indeed (esp. a 19km climb up
Lavers hill), then back to the coast again this time cutting into the cliff
faces (picture 6). Traffic became heavy as this was holiday time and the
resorts were packed. With the traffic came the inevitable abuse and even a
badly aimed missile (a lighter) that thudded against one of my panniers.
Reminded me of home! I was glad to reach Melbourne in time for New Years Eve
to be honest.
Apologies for the really long post ... but it all looked interesting! Martin did some of the journey with a chap called Rob who has a web site http://www.graveldash.com
where Martin merits a few mentions in his diary from the journey.
And finally if anyone bumps into Martin in NZ or America over the next few months (he is a tall, skinny, pale, lawyer from the UK) please say Hi from Ben!