Between Billabong and Boab Tree

Ah!
The wind, the sun… The freedom!
Yes, bike & I are back where we belong. On the road :-)
And what a road!

on ya bike

Well prepared I left Katherine. Carrying enough food to feed an orphanage and enough water to go straight around Australia…
After the luxury of restaurants, cold beers, beds and running water it is back to basics.

king billabong

The first night I camped out under the stars all alone in the bush I was slightly nervous. But soon I realized there is no better place to be. Why pay for 3 stars when you can get the Milky Way for free ;-)

camp with a full moon
It was extremely quiet, no sounds, no animals, nothing. Had a wonderful sleep as you can imagine. I did discover that I better not stop cycling before 16.30 because 52 degrees in a tent isn’t too comfortable…

So next time I wanted to camp I got off the bike just before sunset and looked for a suitable spot when a Ute pulled up.
I recognized the guy from my days in Top Springs and he invited me to Coolibah station, 1,5km up the road. I joined the crew for dinner and even got a room to sleep in. he he, roughing it isn’t what it used to be ;-)
That evening I enjoyed a fire works display as they still had a whole lot left over from NT-day.

fire works at coolibah

Lots of people stop on the road and usually wonder what’s wrong with you to be cycling here. This way you also hear about other people on the road. People kept telling me about this Swiss guy being about a day behind me.

My baby

In Timber Creek I decided to hang around for a day to catch up… It helped that Sean (Irl) and Dileepa (Sri Lanka) filled me up with beer the day I got there so there was absolutely no way I’d get on my bike the next day.

no understatement

No sign of Swiss guy though.
Turned out that same day he decided to cycle a massive 200km to try catch up with me. Suddenly he was a day ahead!

We did manage to catch up in Kununnura where he was waiting for me at a camp side. Cold beer ready :-) and after a short chat it was decided to move on together. Not taking the ‘easy’ bitumen road to Broome. But instead turning right. Across the Gibb-river-road. A 600km dirt road across the gorgeous Kimberley region of Western Australia.

dust eating...

He left 2 days ahead of me because I scored a job in the chip-van at the rodeo that weekend. A very entertaining job I can tell you, cooking kangaroo-burgers and feeding hungry and very drunk cowboys…

kununnura rodeo

I’ve been surprised by the random act of kindness of other road users so far, from offering me cold drinks to slowing down on the dirt so I’m not eating dust with every vehicle passing… People even invited me into their caravans for meals or took stuff back to Holland for me! Very pleasant indeed.

Boab country

I met up with Cyrill after I spend a lovely night at Emma gorge where in the morning I hiked up to the waterfall while the birds at my camp hacked into my food… milk powder everywhere… Better clean up next time before I go and do stuff.

lunch

There’s a few river and creek crossings along this road.
First, and slightly nerve-wracking was the Pentecost River.

There comes the pentecost river...

Chockablock with crocodiles. A 200m very rocky and slippery river crossing. Cyrill wasn’t bothered at all… he doesn’t believe in crocs. I just made sure I kept him on the left and my bike on the right of me.

survived! We survived. Still in possession of two arms and two legs, which makes cycling a lot easier, we moved on.

big country

By the time we started looking for a camp side a sign suddenly appeared. 500 m to camping! At first we figured we must be hallucinating after a hot day in the sun, but the sign was really there, and indeed there was a very manicured camp side with pool and everything!

getting creative

It’s there we discovered that as true and proper cyclist we both carried that most basic of needs… A bottle of whisky :-)

Cyrill and the Coburn range

my bike and the big boys

As we sat on the side of the road one afternoon a BIG noise came our way. Road Train! We would’ve been completely covered in dust if the driver hadn’t seen the bikes and slowed down, even stopped. It was my friends from the yard in Darwin! How nice to see some familiar faces. They let us fill up our water from the tanks and after a chat they moved on down the road.

good to see some familiar faces

The scenery was spectacular, the wide open space and far away views I love so much. We weren’t going too fast since the road was very sandy if it wasn’t corrugated.road train in the creek

On this road I learned it’s not always very handy to have clip-ons as I fell off a few times getting stuck in sand…

tough going

One time I really hurt my wrist and it was sore to hold the handlebars with all this corrugations. So when I stopped at a creek for a short break I asked a friendly lady if she was a nurse by any chance. She wasn’t… She was a doctor :-) told me my wrist would be fine and gave me a bunch of painkillers. That helped.

When I stopped at a small creek to get some water I was surprised to see a half-naked man with half his teeth missing wandering out the bush.

Klaus the camel man
It was ‘Klaus the camel man’. A bit of a legend on the Gibb River. Has been walking around Australia with his camels for 7 years after starting of on a bicycle in ’94… See what can happen ;-) He invited us for some real and proper coffee and we ended up hanging around solving the world problems and more.

best friends

Cyrill and I split up due to different itineraries at the turn-off to Mount Elizabeth station. I’ve heard about this place and didn’t mind making a 60km detour over a particular difficult stretch of road to see it.

shoes on a tree...

I thought about asking for a little work so I could camp for free… But when I got there I got a better offer. A weeks work and my own little house :-)
I was welcomed with the words:’ Hello you crazy girl!’

keeping the diary

It’s a truly lovely spot where the kangaroos eat out of your hands and the dogs get a BBQ-meal in the evening. The pet-bulls and chooks wander about happily and it would be easy to get lost in time if it wasn’t for the temperature rising every day and the need to move on direction south.

water lilly

So I left this little heaven and followed some bike tracks up to Barnett roadhouse…

good morning

I found two cyclists enjoying a cold drink.

father and son
Mike and Stu. Father and son.

Stu
They’re on a 4000km ‘cross Australia bike trip. From Cairns to Broome.

corrugation

It didn’t take long to decide to join them down to Galvins gorge. Where the surroundings where so picture perfect and idyllic we stayed two nights. We climbed up rocks, swung on ropes, swam at night and showered in the waterfall.

lunch
Stu managed to catch two fresh water prawns we had for breakfast.

Stu and the cherubin

The Gibb-river road is in our legs. We had some amazing scenery and some extremely annoying stingless bee’s who like to go disco-dancing in your ears or eyes. We cycled across hills and through hot dusty plains. Cooked on wood and drank from rivers.
We’ve been getting up early to beat the heat and the wind that seemed to have turned to our disadvantage….

sunrise cycling

We’re now in Derby and we’re still together.

under the tree...

After getting extremely dusty I’ve had a shower and discovered that that nice tan was actually just red dirt…

Another two days and we’ll hit Broome where our roads are going to part and the long way to Perth awaits me.

lookout

Australia is definitely starting to grow on me…
Will keep you posted.
-xxx-

17 thoughts on “Between Billabong and Boab Tree

  1. Hoi Mirjam!

    Zie ineens je nieuwe stuk, en nog helemaal vers van de pers ook nog. Ga het straks rustig doorlezen.
    Heb intussen je DVD met fotos binnengekregen en na het oppoetsen daarvan is het me gelukt alle fotos op te slaan .

    Veel liefs,

    papa

  2. Hoi Mir,
    mooi verhaal, wat klinkt dat allemaal goed zeg, je heb het prima naar je zin. Blij dat te horen. Geniet ervan meisje! Hier ook alles OK. Stella kruipt, volgende keer kan ze naar je zwaaien via de webcam. Enjoy!
    Liefs Karin

  3. haaa, mooie plaatjes! goed verhaal en fijn dat Australië bevalt :-)
    wel goed je tanden blijven poetsen!
    xx

  4. Hi Mirjam!

    Wat goed om te horen dat je de Gibb river road hebt overleefd… ik vond het met de auto al een heel avondtuur ;-) Maar ik kan je vertellen, Broome is heerlijk, ik heb drie dagen non-stop op Cable beach gelegen, bijkomen van het hobbelen en schudden en vooral al het rode zand eraf spoelen! Wij zijn inmiddels in Sydney, een stuk kouder, maar ook onwijs leuk!

    Liefs Eveline

  5. leuk verhaal weer, en mooie plaatjes! Op en top Australie. Een tocht te paard mag toch eigenlijk niet ontbreken . :-)

    x Juud

  6. HALLO MIRJAM, BEDANKT WEER VOOR JE MAIL MET ZEER AVONTUURLIJKE BELEVENISSEN, WAT EEN INDRUKKEN KRIJG JE TE VERWERKEN, WAT GEWELDIG VAN DE VADER EN ZOON DIE ZO HEERLIJK AAN HET FIETSEN ZIJN, EN DE MAN MET ZIJN KAMELEN, GEWELDIG DAT ER ZOVEEL MENSEN ZIJN DIE HET DAGELIJKSE LEVEN WILLEN ONTVLUCHTEN, KAN JE WEL AARDIG TEGEN DE HITTE WANT HET IS BAR EN BOOS.

    NU MIRJAM ALL THE BEST EN IK KIJK MET SPANNING UIT NAAR HET VOLGENDE MAILTJE VAN JOU. GROETEN VAN JE TANTE RIET uit Maassluis.

  7. We still follow your trip by watching your blog from time to time since we met and celebrated your birthday in Kathmandu.
    Good luck
    Robin and Steffi

  8. hallo Mirjam.We zijn van de week weer thuisgekomen van vakantie.je ouders hebben ons opgehaald uit Arnhem van de boot,en je vader vertelde dat er weer een mail was van jou.Het zijn ook weer mooie fotos.Maar ik stuur je wel een uitgebreide mail,lieve groeten en een knuffel van ons beiden,oma

  9. Gibb River road!! Yeehaaa.

    Well done, nice to read about it and the fotos. I was there ten years ago, wasnot cycling yet, drove it by car.
    Pentecost river, I could cross it dry, it was late august. Really round boulders, must have been tricky with a bike.

    The 15 year jubileum from The Wereldfietser this last weekend in Harskamperdennen. Was a nice weekend with the story and fotos from Bernadette and a nice BBQ.

    If you can, and probably already heard about it, Check out Karijini NP near Tom Price, it is a bit inland (300km?) down from Port Hedland, but it was for me one of the nicest places of Australia.

    Keep the wheels rolling,

    Roald

  10. What a pitty the red wasn’t a tan, but I do believe you have a nice tan anyway compared to the average Dutch person. Nevertheless it’s nice to read about your adventures again and that you are enjoying every inch of your journey. Don’t go to fast as I will return Down Under next year (2010), so we could get a cold beer together.. with some Skippy burgers

  11. Back in business again…
    Heb je blog de hele zomer verwaarloosd, maar nu weer bijgelezen.
    Stills hitting that road; keep on going girl!!

  12. Dag Mirjam,

    Prachtige foto’s van de Gibb River Road. Jij hebt gelukkig wel de tijd genomen om met de Camel man te praten. Wij hadden met de 4WD even moeten stoppen voor een praatje, maar je weet het.. Nog teveel het westerse gejakker in het bloed. Dat raak je zelfs in 5 weken niet kwijt.
    Ben benieuwd hoe het verder gaat. Je moet beslist naar Karijini NP. Voor ons was dat samen met Purnululu NP het hoogtepunt van de reis.
    We blijven op de hoogte,

    Groet,

    Marc en Manon, Casper en Luuk.

    PS de foto’s zijn bij je ouders aangekomen.

  13. Hey hey
    I’m nearly home from Canadia. We need to have a Derry Girls reunion in NZ!!! Guess who I met in the middle of Toronto the other day… Vanessa from Christmas in Derry. Hilarious!
    Keep safe!
    xo

  14. Hallo Mirjam , even een kort bericht van mij de slager van Palmerston NT, ik kijk iedere keer er op voor uit met jouw avontuur in de outback . groetjes

  15. Dag mirjam

    geweldig, jij pakt de westkant van Australie. je geeft me erg veel inspiratie. Ik ga in februari met Pensioen en heb een enkele reis naar Nieuw Zeeland gebeokt, mat fiets en al, Mij plan is om op de fiets naar nederland terug te gaan. Mijn dochter wwont in Nieuw Zeeland en daarvoor 10 jaar in Australie.Ik heb veel van Australie gesien, maar nog niet de westkust. Ik droom ervan om dit te doen. na jou verhalen geef je mij het laatste zetje om de westkust te pakken totaan darwin.

    Een sportive fietsgroet van Anneke

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