Country roads

You meet people when you travel. Often you know it’s once and never again, sometimes it’s different though. I met Anja in Karinjini National Park.Anja at the City Muster I knew she’d found herself a spot in Margaret River so when I finally got there we spent a few days together doing things I don’t often do. Belly dancing for example. We decided to take a trip up to Perth for the ’City Muster’.Casey Chambers singing with her Dad and Husband A country music gathering with names like John Williamson, Kasey Chambers, Becky Cole and Lee Kernaghan. The same line-up as at the Darwin City Muster where I was eight months ago.Lee Kernaghan

Only difference – I knew half the lyrics by now thanks to some cd’s lying about in my tractor. It was almost more fun watching the audience as it was seeing the bands, but I have converted another soul to country, haven’t I Anja…? 😉

Organised as we are we never planned where to sleep. But on this Saturday night, around midnight, we found a perfect spot in the dunes right at the city beach. Perth City BeachNo signs, or people, telling us we couldn’t camp here. And a refreshing swim in the morning is all you need to wake up. Shelley BeachDon (you might remember from Nepal, Thailand, Darwin…) happened to be in Perth too. After meeting for a coffee we took his Enfield for a ride.On Don's Bullet I wasn’t quiet dressed for the occasion, but after borrowing his jacket, helmet & boots I was good to ride around a little. I still like motorcycles.

Apparently there is six degrees of separation right? … I reckon there’s only two in Western Australia. Everywhere I’ve gone and just about everyone I’ve talked to knows a person I have met before. Up north I met Chicky, he lives in Margaret River and happened to know Anja as well.Margaret River family BBQ I stayed over at his place where I had the most comfy bed you can imagine; A swag on a trampoline 🙂

Jippa, one of the other guys I met in the same place took me for a mountain bike ride. Brilliant fun, and a lot less pushing then I do with my own bicycle… Especially the cold beer afterwards was extremely enjoyable.

A great thing about meeting up with people you’ve met before is that it feels like meeting up with old friends.Where did she come from...? It was no different here. I enjoyed the luxury of having a home and a family for a few days. Complete with BBQ’s and beaches and a dog.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, it’s not (just) the places you visit but the people you meet that make it all worthwhile. eating our freshly cought fishI had a good time riding down to Augusta through lovely cool forest. But that is where the road ended. The most South-West corner of Australia. It was either cycle back up or try to get across the water.the boat in Augusta It didn’t take long at all to find a lift to the other side where I promptly got invited by a lady named Margaret. At the jetty she was waiting for her friends to come over to go fishing, swimming and watch the stingrays. I joined them and ended up catching my first fish ever.My 1st catch! Had it on my plate that same evening 🙂 Life is great (well, not for that particular fish… obviously)

I do not like sand very much. Australia has been trying real hard to convince me and has given me red sand, yellow sand, white- and even black sand.MC But nothing helps, I still don’t like pushing through sand. I do like the places it usually gets me though. Like along the track east of Augusta. I planned to camp and called into a farm-house to top up on water. Chatting to the farm-lady I found out I’m the first cyclist she’s seen passing her house in the last seven years. She does see a few, but usually on the main road, just 10km further north… About to go and milk cows she wondered if I’d care to have a look.

Now I have a sister living on a dairy farm I thought it might be interesting to see how things work here. There were 900 cows. All of them need milking twice daily.Milking cows can be a shitty job... I have never been shat and peed on by a cow before. I can tell you it’s not the greatest thing I’ve done and I’d recommend everyone to step back when it happens. It smells bad. Two days and many cows later I thought it be time to move a little further east. Through the Tingle-treeThat’s when I got back into the forest where the trees grew bigger and the flies too. March flies. I thought I had experienced them, but never as bad as on this stretch of road. March FlyAs soon as you go below 20 km/h they come and drive you mad. Only on a long downhill run you get rid of them a little while before they come zooming around your head again. I found waving a branch around a very effective way to stop them from biting. It’s a bit of a hassle though, to cycle with one hand and wave that branch around with the other.gravel I got to Pemberton where I met some others cycling and even a hiker. Main conversation topic was those flies. And what to do about them. Apparently mixing baby oil with dettol works well. Haven’t tried it yet but will do so when the need arises.

Another topic was Sunderland. And how, apparently, they are the best… (you’re welcome Chris…)Hi Roo On my map I’d seen a road that looked interesting to me. Through D’Entrecasteaux National Park. It’s remote and rugged and combines pristine beaches and tall tree forest in a wild and spectacular landscape… InletThat is what it says in the leaflet anyway. The road was rather rough but the March-flies weren’t too bad. It surprised me to find a whole lot of abandoned beach shacks at the end of a road to an Inlet.beach shacks at Broke Inlet Great spot to camp, and no shortage of water. It’s been real nice to just cruise around and stay in places a little longer since (as I keep telling myself) I’m in no particular hurry.down the hazardous road I’m not actually going anywhere, just making a bit of a loop around the South-West.

So when I ran into a guy on a motorbike and started talking and drinking coffee after only 30km of cycling I wasn’t too bothered about staying right there for the night and have him cook up a feast on the BBQ while enjoying a glass of wine and listening to music. Breakfast with LeighYes, it’s a hard life indeed. I made my way slowly to the valley of the Giants. Big trees. Actually Huge Big trees. A kind of Eucalyptus grows here to heights up to 80 meter. Impressive to cycle in between, even more impressive to walk through the tops.Tree Top Walk That’s exactly what you can do at the ’tree-top-walk’ the name kindda gives that away) I spend hours wandering around with Tommy and Nicole who are driving around and helped me out in a few different ways (nog bedankt he!)

In the small town of Denmark I fell off my bike. A silly thing to do in the middle of a busy town. Slightly embarrassing as well. It wasn’t my fault though! A little screw came undone so I couldn’t get my shoe loose from my pedal. Not even after I fell over. So I sat on the road, took off my shoe, got my bike back up and hopped on one sock to the nearest coffee shop while my ankle nearly snapped and ordered a coffee like it is all perfectly normal. The coffee was excellent, so I ordered another one… and then an orange juice…little frog

I got talking to a bunch of Dutchmen one of whom happened to own a sport shop and promised to send me a pair of bike shorts! Yay! How lucky was that? Cycling away along the coast against the wind I wondered why I even bothered leaving Denmark that day.Emu

While looking around for a camp spot a van pulled up beside me: “Are you the Dutch girl..?” was the question. “We are the Buff-people!”

Eight months ago in Katherine I lost my ‘Buff’. I love this little piece of material so sent an email to the company asking where I could get one.

They sent me a couple… Here in the van were Edward and Inge, the very same people who sent them to me! Inge at the Buff standOver from Queensland for the Ulysses-meeting.

We camped together that night at gorgeous Shelley Beach. I’ve seen lots and lots of motorbikes on the road the last few days. The Ulysses-club is Australia’s biggest motorcycle club where all members have at least one thing in common. They are all over 50. Their motto is; ‘Grow old disgracefully’… Ulysses memberSounds alright to me. So I went, had a look and stayed. The full week.

I hung around the Buff-stand for a bit and checked out all those people on motorbikes, a very varied crowd indeed. About 3500 people came to Albany from all over Australia and set up camp at the oval.Albany

There was a huge tent with bands playing, I had a look once but felt a little out-of-place. It felt slightly ridiculous being in my tent trying to sleep at 9pm while all them ‘old people’ were out there dancing the night away.

It was a good chance to look around town, meet up with some old friends from near Mullewa and see another side of Australia…

And I did indeed meet some interesting people I’m sure to catch up with along the way.

The idea had been to leave Albany after a day or three and cycle up the Stirling ranges.

Instead I stayed a week, got a lift up the highway and cycled only the last 40km. saleyard complexBecause I wanted to be in Katanning before St. Patrick’s day.

When I got out of the van in Kojonup a lady came up and started talking to me. She told me she lived just 15km down the road and if I would like to come and stay…shearing On the farm it was sheep-shearing-time. sheep dog at workA great opportunity to have a look around and see how that goes. I even had a go myself!Rosella I think I’ll stick to cycling, but good to have a look around.

In her beautiful farmhouse I discovered this lady’s sister is married to Shirley’s brother. Shirley is, together with Isabel and Gerry, one of my ‘Three Aussie Grannies’ whom I met three years ago in the hostel in Ireland. at the sheep farmWhen they heard about my plans they told me to come and see them when I got there…

They have followed my journey from the start, exactly three years ago today. Shirley prints out all my stories so the ladies who are not on internet can read them too. So Katanning, their hometown, has been a place on my map I knew I would get to at some stage. When I arrived in town and walked into a random shop to ask if they happen to know Shirley I was surprised when the reply came as; “Yes, she is my mum.”

Out of 3500 people I picked her son to ask. It’s been the warmest welcome I’ve ever had. I have stayed with all three of my ‘grannies’ and they introduced me to just about every single person in town and even put me in the newspaper!

They took me down to the largest sheep-sale-yards in Western Australia.sheep sale yards in KatanningSheep sale I have visited two primary schools so must have talked to nearly ALL the children in Katanningmy audience in Katanning (there is three primary schools) picture taken by ShirleyWe had a great time at the all-ages-playground and got all dressed up and ready to party on St Patrick day when we found out we were the only ones in the pub… St Patricks-day with my GranniesBut we made our own party 🙂 From here I will slowly make my way back towards Perth were, at the end of this month, I will welcome Mum & Dad to Australia!kookaburra caterpillars walking in line Merino

12 thoughts on “Country roads

  1. What a great adventure you are having. I’m very envious. Keep up the good writing.

    Jason (Perth, Western Australia)

  2. Hoi Mirjam.

    Drie jaar op reis vandaag, wat gaat dat snel! En wat een schitterende foto’s weer. En wat leuk dat we een boel daarvan over een dag of 10 zelf gaan bekijken, we hebben er zin in!
    Nog een een leuke dag daar in Katanning en tot over anderhalve week 🙂 !

    Liefs,

    pap & mam.

  3. Pippie !!!

    Wat lees ik nu, alweer 3 jaar op reis ?
    Time flies when you’re havin fun huh !?!
    Proficiat met je 3 jarige wereldreis, dat het er nog vele meer mogen worden 😉

    Dikke kus,

    Lars

  4. Your three ‘adopted’Aussie Grannies are more than delighted to have had you visit us in our home town in WA and stay with each one of us.
    Your cycling adventure since leaving The Netherlands three years ago on 20 3 2007 has been truly amazing and to celebrate your third anniversary of being on the road in Katanning is even more amazing.
    Thank you for coming our way – we all love you to bits and will continue to closely follow your exciting cycling adventure around the rest of Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world.
    We are so glad our brief meeting with you in Londonderry Ireland in Feb 2007 has enriched our lives no end and now we look forward to meeting your Mum and Dad.
    We are missing you already as the last five days with you were such fun – for us and you!
    Take care, ‘our’cycling Dutch girl – love always from your three grannies – Isabel, Gerry and Shirley xx 🙂

  5. Hi Mirjam, You are experiencing Australia more and better than most of us who have lived here all our lives. Love reading your stories and experiences. Makes us all want to get out there and follow you around. Isn’t it just the best place on earth. Keep them coming.

  6. Hello there, Isabel Gerry and Shirley!

    While translating Mirjams story for her dutch grannies (:-)), I just read your comment.
    Thanks to Street View we already looked into your streets and saw your houses.
    We’re looking forward to meeting you a lot!

    All the best from Apeldoorn!

    Jan Cees & Inge.

  7. Hoi Mir,
    Wat een verhalen en foto’s zeg! Zo te horen heb je het prima naar je zin daar. Leuk om het straks aan papa en mama te laten zien 🙂 Geniet ervan! Hier ook alles Ok, liefs; Karin, Michiel en Stella

  8. Hello Mirjam! Fantastic to read your latest instalment and glad all is well. I was particularly pleased to hear your parents are joining you in Perth, I hope you have a brilliant time, I’m sure you will – as I remember how great it spending time with you all in Nepal! Best wishes, Sally xxx

  9. Hi Mirjam,
    Good to talk to you on Wednesday and know you are going OK.
    As I’ve already mentioned to you, Sam did a fantastic feature about you and your adventure in the Great Southern Herald. I’m sure your mum and Dad will enjoy the article too. I’ve yet to start on the next Advocate due to the storm which delayed me and another matter which needed to be seen to.
    Joan from Kojonup rang me to see how we all got on when you arrived in Katanning and I told her we had a great time and some of the things we did.
    Gerry is safely home again ….we had another BKW Coop Cafe meeting 10am Monday so we could fill her in on all the news.
    Hullo to Mirjam’s mum & Dad in Apeldoorn. We can’t wait to meet you both when you come to WA.
    It was interesting to hear how you could look right in on our houses as you spoke to Mirjam. I said to her “Shall I go out and wave to you?” 🙂
    Cheers, Shirley

  10. I cannot believe you saw Kasey Chambers Live! How awesome! I have one of her albums and she also did some great songs together with Paul Kelly.
    Glad to see/hear/or rather read, that you keep up with the Country Style, you little Dolly Parton-wannabe 😉
    Take care and have a great time with your parents
    I guess I meet you some day back on the old continent!
    Lots of love
    DarlingDoris

  11. Hi Mirjam
    Pleased to view your photos about the farm Gemma delighted to see herself on the net. Hope all your travels are going well and looking forward to seeing you again if you have time to view the motorbike and to hear more from you about your experiences on the way. Happy travellilng

    Joan

  12. Hi Mirjam
    Hope all is going well and you are all enjoying discovering new sights.
    Sorry to have missed meeting Mum and Dad. Shirley and Isabel were delighted to have you all back in Katanning.Thank you so much for the presents. Will always think of you when I look at them— not that I need that to remind me of you.
    Safe travelling. Take care. Love Gerry

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