Part 6: Australia
6,000km from Perth to Sydney
Australia was the last country on my journey and proved to be one of the most challenging.
Turns out Australia is massive... I mean really frickin' huge! What's more is there is also a whole load of nothing in the middle! Regular distances of over 200km between settlements made for tricky resupplying and some long, lonely stretches.
This was made up by the friendliness of the people I met when I eventually reached these places, often couchsurfing or camping in people's gardens or on cricket pitches or village greens!
Arriving in to Perth to start the 'final leg' of the journey i'd massively underestimated the distance to cross the country to Sydney. This proved to be a 3 month full-on expedition in itself!
From Perth I headed south to take in some highlights of Western Australia, eventually making it to Cape Leuwin, Australia's most south-westerly point.
The south coast of WA is incredible with giant trees and unspoilt whit beaches. After making it to Esperance I headed north to Norseman to attempt the crossing of the Nullabor desert.
1,200 barren, and townless, kilometres of plain led my east to Ceduna and on to Southern Australia, eventually reaching Adelaide.
From Adelaide I followed the coast on to the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne.
Eventually tiring of the coast I then headed inland to cross the snowy mountains (turns out they were cold!), taking in the capital, Canberra, before the final dash up the coast to Sydney. 3 months and 6,000km in all.
"Those who lose dreaming are lost."
- Aboriginal Proverb
After you are settled, you will be given some tea with herbs in it that will help your reflecting process.
The Nullabor Plain stretches 1,200km from Norseman to Ceduna, in between there is nothing but a few service stations...
Cycling from Dawn to Dusk, with nothing but a couple of laybys as highlights.
The crossing took 8 days with the famously strong winds turning against me and turning the last 4 days in to a 12kmh crawl.
See Nullabor article.
"If at some point you don’t ask yourself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ then you’re not doing it right"
- Roland Gau
SA proved a welcome break from the nothingness of the Nullabor. However, the distances were still fairly massive and progress seemed slow.
I took a few diversions to interesting towns to meet up with some other cycle tourers and couchsurfers before eventually reaching Adelaide, where i was taken in by some friends of friends for some much needed recuperation.
I eventually made my way on to the Great Ocean Road for a picturesque ride in to Melbourne.
The Snowy Mountains
Who'd have thought that the first, and only, country that I"d encounter snow would be Australia!
In my head i'd imagined cycling through Australia in shorts and flip flops, but the reality was that winter had been fast approaching and venturing up in to the mountains got cold fast!
The most challenging section came when we made the final pass over the aptly named 'Dead Horse Gap'. Snow covered the ground and temperatures were in the minus., the wind on the long descent freezing our hands to the handlebars. Reaching the popular ski resort of Thredbo, we had to dive into a cafe to defrost, my hands had turned purple!
After the mountains we rolled down to the coast, via Canberra. By this point my bike was giving up, and with just a few hundred kilometres to go I could no longer change gears (as my chain had snapped so many times I had run out of links!). On a heavy, laden bike this proved quite inconvenient on hills! I was saved by a random act of kindness upon meeting Nigel, who had been following my trip online and as I closed in realised i would pass through his town of Nowra. Without question Nigel took me too the local bike shop and had them replace by chain and rear cassette (which was the cause of the chain issues!), a job that was beyond my dwindling budget and ensured the bike would make it the last few days to Sydney!