Monday, February 4, 2013

Welcome home

Heading south in convoy, more than 30 bikes
Meeting up with about 30 bikes in Joondalup just north of my final destination before we rode the last 30km into Perth and the last stop, was quite emotional. I didn't expect that many guys to turn up, everyone was really nice and congratulated me on the trip. We rode down the highway in a convoy with me at the front. I was really honoured that these guys would follow and support me on the last leg of my journey. Amazing!

It was even more heartening to see even more bikes parked outside Perth council house when we arrived there.

Perth Mayor Lisa Scaffidi with letter from Scottish Provost
The lovely Lisa Scafffidi, Perth Mayor, greeted me with open arms and all of this was captured by TV and media. I felt like a rock star for 5 minutes. Absolutely amazing!

This was overwhelming and I was unsure how to deal with it really, but there I was, some ordinary bloke on a bike arriving home having ridden 28,800km from Perth to Perth.

No big deal surely, but this event today was a big deal. It was magic, everyone was wonderful and I felt really special, welcomed by friends and family who braved the heat of the day to meet me.

So that's it. The END.

The end of this amazing adventure. I'm happy to be able to complete what I started out to do but sad at the same time. Will I ever be so lucky to do something like this again? I hope so.

The last few months have been an amazing whirlwind of ups and downs,  mostly ups. My trusty bike has a place in my heart, not like a person, its a machine, but I cant help but feel some affection for this amazing bike that has transported me across the world. Its a motorcycle, one of many similar on the road everyday but this one is special.Its witnessed all of my moods, from good to bad, it's accompanied me over potholes and gravel  saved me when other vehicles were trying to kill us both, carried me through torrential rain without a hiccup  taken me through horrendous heat and cold,  kept me alive and given me a life at the same time. How can I not feel some affection or connection with my close companion that is a motorbike after all.  I now have to send it back to UK and I now  know I should now sell it for something new but that will be very hard to do.

My Dad and me. February 2012
My family have been supportive through the whole trip, especially when I lost my Dad and I had to rearrange all plans. My wife has been the support crew behind me, when something goes wrong, I can rely on her to do whatever is required to get help or solve any dramas. I didn't have a support vehicle behind me but I don't think that's needed really. As long as I have someone at the end of the phone who can do something to help, I never felt alone. She was the one who heard my moans when I was down, she lifted me up at my worst and told me off when I needed to be grateful.

Sad to see the end, now it's back to work and routine. I need to recover so much money now. Yes it's rather expensive but I wouldn't change that for the world, worth every penny. So if you are thinking of doing something similar, stop thinking about about it and just do it before you can't. Life is short.

So what now?

Did you know there is a Perth in Tasmania?

Fancy that! A Tiger in Tasmania. In Perth as well :)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Share us yer grog mate

Middle of nowhere
Halls Creek is in the middle of nowhere. Its 1100 km from my starting point in Darwin which leaves another 3000 km to Perth to go. This is a small town with some shops, two hotels and a pub. I park up up, shower, change and head for dinner. Today I reckon I'll go a bit more fancy and order a bottle of the finest New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy with the meal. When I'm finished, I'm invited to sit and chat with some of the locals from surrounding Aboriginal communities. They all seem a nice bunch and we chat for a while on various topics from motorbikes to racism. The nice waitress sees  my bottle of wine still 2/3 full and brings it out to me. The woman next to me asks, "share us some of yer grog mate", I reply, "of course, help yourself"
She pours the entire remains of the finest wine into an empty pint glass, downs the lot and thumps the glass back on the table! Another lesson learned.

Cable Beach, Broome
I'm going to get new tyres in Broome, and call a bike shop there, unbeknown to me its diverted to Perth and the guy tells me he has what I need in stock. I've sent a message to my support team (wife) on the very limited Internet access asking her to arrange tyres for Saturday morning for me. The bike shops in Broome don't have any tyres and cant help without flying the goods overnight. The cost of air freight is fairly expensive, road freight takes a week so my wife decides to bring them herself in a suitcase. Just as well Broome is a lovely holiday destination.

New Tyres
The local bike shop will fit them for me and in order to save some money, I remove and fit the wheels myself. I'm rather cheeky and ask if I can do an oil and filter change at the same time.

Now I have my own portable hotel again
Next day I'm off to Port Hedland. This is not one of my favourite places in Australia. Thousands of workers in white utes, wearing goaties, drinkin piss ... bugger all to do except drink piss as they say. So with this in mind, and the mining boom in these parts, how easy is it to get a cheap hotel? Impossible, they all want $300 a night! Even the shitty roadside pub. The single men accommodation camp  across from the airport wants $290, for a bloody 'donger'. (part of portacabin)

I find the cheapest deal at $250 at a hotel in town but I'm annoyed I didn't think of this sooner. Tomorrow, I'm going to K-Mart and will buy me a cheap tent, no way I'm paying silly money simply for a bed.

I was planning to rough camp without a tent, but this is wet season, it usually rains heavily through the night and mosquitoes are everywhere.

$17 Tent. You get what you pay for.
Armed with my new $17  tent and bedding I'm aiming for Carnarvon but I wont make it before dark. There is a road house where I can stop at on the way. Nanuturra roadhouse has camping, showers, oh and a bar as well. My pitch costs $10, the tent takes 5 minutes to put up, and ask myself why I didn't do this sooner. I get the answer later that night. 11pm, It's still bloody hot and I struggle to breath in my new hot and sweaty $17 plastic bag. The vents don't seem to work and I have to open the door fully to get air and cool down. I then spend the next hour or more with small torch in hand killing off all the mossies and other weird looking bugs now sharing my abode. I think I get to sleep around 2am. The 4am beep beep beep of trucks reversing wakes me up and I'm fairly grumpy now. 5am and I decide to get up and go, making use of cooler part of the day to travel.

Carnarvon is famous for bananas
I arrive in Carnarvon where the temperature is a lovely 26, find a cheap hotel and sleep like I'm dead.

Next day I'm on the road to Geraldton, slow and easy, its now fairly cool on the coast so I don't need to leave so early. I grab myself somewhere to stay, not your usual hotel but this time its a house. Much cheaper but rather eery as the key is left for me in a lock box to the rear with instructions on how to get in and what room to stay in.

Its starting to get dark and this place is deserted, at least I think it is although I was sure I could hear some moans from one of the locked doors along the corridor inside. I've found the light switches and found my room. This really is a lovely place, beautifully decorated charming and homely. I'm here alone, this is my last night on the road, tomorrow I hit Perth and the journey is complete. This is my last night and I should be partying, but no one is here.
Geraldton Yellow Submarine!

Next day I visit the town and whilst filming a wee bit at the yellow submarine, the high winds blow my camera and tripod over. The camera hits the ground hard and I can do nothing to stop it. The camera survives but the microphone on top breaks. Ah well, its made it this far

Tomorrow I'm meeting up with some other bikes just north of Perth and will continue down to meet with the Perth Mayor to hand over a gift from the Lord Provost of Perth. That will be it, the end, the final destination, the conclusion of this mammoth trip across the world. I'm feeling a bit sad about this but happy to see my family and Friends again.

Next: Welcome Home

Middle of nowhere

Crossing into temperate climate

Last time I did this it was snowing, I was a bit bored by now, I thought it was apt.
The Pinnacles in WA