Friday 7 September 2012


If you are interested in coming along to a presentation about this bike journey I am doing a talk at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology this wednesday 12 sept at 7pm. Its free to everyone and I will be showing my photos and telling some stories of my experiences.
Hope to see you there, Ben.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Roll off stage

A journey through the heart of New Zealand farm country to Auckland and onto Eastern Europe. Starting in Istanbul Turkey, the ride will take me East to the Black Sea, North to the Baltic and end somewhere around the Adriatic Sea some 6 months there after. All on my insanely overloaded touring bike.

Perhaps it should have read something more like this

A journey through the North Island where my bike Doris will begin to fall apart and the weather will be windy and cold to the point where I will wear my socks on my hands. I will then make my way via twelve lanes of traffic out of Istanbul and weave my way with no concern for a direct route through eastern europe sleeping in peoples houses, in bus stops and camping on farms all the while not being able to speak english with anyone. Once I get to the original finish date and place I will continue for another 3 months and end up through the Baltics at the start of winter. All the while Doris will continue to fall apart and cause me problems until she completely falls apart in London. I will then jump the pond to Perth lose a day in my tent and make my way across the south coast of Australia looking for wildlife in different places and avoid being hit by road trains. When I get back to New Zealand it will snow in January and I will go fishing with no luck and ride into a typical west coast storm. On days off I will go for bike rides and I will randomly meet up with friends along the way who take me in, look after me and make me feel like I am on an awesome trip....all on my insanely overloaded touring bike.
A round about way to do europe

Pretty straight forward
The short ride home
The way things happened
23,212 Kms (14,423 miles)
28 Countries
20 Currencies
290 days on the road
34 nights paid accommodation (including campgrounds)

Favorite place to Ride - Boarder between Bosnia and Montenegro following the river Tara
Best food - Turkey/Bosnia
Hardest place to ride - Bosnia/Slovenia
Worst road - 1st Serbia, 2nd Sand road Lithuania/Latvia, 3rd Albania
Longest day- 201kms
Most helpful person- George Stan in Romania when I broke 6 spokes at once when the bunji cord holding the tent on the rack came lose and fell in the wheel. I stayed at his house in Bucharest for 3 days while I got it sorted
Hottest day - 50+ in Ceduna Australia (my gauge stopped at 50 Deg C at 11:15am)
Coldest day - -10 in Copenhagan
Water consumed across Australia - 139L (28 riding days)
Weight - Start 86 kg, Finish 77kg
Chased by - A donkey, a goose, a dog (lots of dogs), kittens, a goat
The tent licked by - A Dog, sheep, Cow
Staple Diet - Bread, pasta and soup
Most Chocolate bars - 34 (Romania)
Most cans of soft drink - 30 (Australia)

Broken Spokes- 19 (plus two rebuilds)
Broken - seat, crank, bottom Bracket, Rear rack, chain, de'railier, kick stand, bottle cage, gear cable, peddle cage, peddle, tire blow out, wheel rim
flat tires - 5
worn out tires - 8
brake pads - 5 sets (10 pads)



How far is 23,212 kilometers ??
Across Canada 5768 kms
Empire State Building 381m
Great wall of China 8851 kms
Mount Everest 8.8 kms
Amazon River 6259 kms
Around the Earth following the Equator 40,075 kms
Distance to the moon 384,400 kms
New Zealand to Australia 2250 kms

A journey that taught me all about who I am and what I want to be when I grow up. Thank you to everyone who gave me advice and support through Facebook messages, text messages, emails and writing comments on the blog. I have another couple of adventures in the back of the mind and I hope I can get some of them underway in good time. For now I will be based in Nelson and trying my best at keeping my feet from tapping while I am in class learning some new skills that may well take me around the world again. Thank you to every one who took me into their homes and helped me out when Doris was broken and I was hungry. Here's too a fantastic way to see a small part of the world and wet ones appetite for getting out and exploring. Time for the next adventure !!

West wet windy coast

This doesn't need any caption
Deciding to stay the extra day in Te Anau turned out to be a great decision as the wind and rain lashed the town all day but come the following morning the crisp morning gave way to a vivid blue sky and a beautiful sunny push out of town. Of course I was feeling sore and pained from the game of squash with Fi which went down to the wire in another epic battle but I had no choice but to get to Nelson in plenty of time to make sure I had everything done and dusted for the start of my course.

Up and over the crown range proved far more challenging than I had anticipated but then I was not in so much of a hurry that I couldn't stop and get a fill of peanut butter sammies for the final push to the 1000m pass. Then it was a beautiful coast down to the Cardona Hotel for a pint and a kip in the trees for the night. In Wanaka I met with rising multi sport star Dougal Allan (watch for his name on or near the top of the coast to coast this weekend) and we set about catching up for years lost, both indulging in our own pursuits.

Driftwood cow. Hokitika
While I decided to take the day off Dougal went to work and left me in the presence of all his flash and shiny toys. Not to miss out on such an opportunity I jumped on his road bike and hammered out just under a hundred k's loving the lightness of the bike and the way everything sounded smooth and efficient. Not exactly like Doris with another worn set of bearings in her peddle causing a loud grinding and clicking with every revolution.

Saying goodbye to Wanaka the road I followed took me towards the head of Lake Wanaka and over the Haast pass through some of the most amazing podocarp forest this country has on offer. A big frontal system had stalled off the south coast and about the time I started the assent to the pass all hell broke loose and the wind became too strong to bike into effectively. Just as I thought I might have to wait it out the system moved on and started dumping heavy rain on me. I pushed on into the early evening and the rain fell in continuous fashion puking 100-150mls on the forest around me. Although I was fairly damp throughout the night due in large part to my worn out tent I woke happy as a monkey in a tree to a blue bird day and raging west coast rivers all cascading down towards the ocean.

Sunset in Hokitika
Particularly impressive were the gates of Haast but many of the tributaries were awesome to watch also. On some advice from friends I stopped into Okarito to have a wander around and bumped into some kiwi tour guides who took me under their wing. Guiding a group of international travelers on a walking, driving, swimming tour of the south island they gave me heaps of food and a few beers on the beach with the waves crashing into the night. My night was not done at this point, I was determined to head off into the bush and find me a rare kiwi localised to this part of Nz. I made the hour walk in and after making some calls I started to dose off to the distant calls of a female Brown kiwi and before I knew it I was lying all curled up on the rocky path trying to keep as warm as I could in the circumstances. Every now and then I would call out to the Kiwis again but they never seemed to come closer than far away throughout the night. Around 4am I decided enough was enough and headed back to the camp ground and continued on my way the following morning.

Once I arrived in Hokitika I was making good progress again and a Nelson finish mid week was looking promising. With that in mind I parked up at the beach to watch a group of body boarders playing in the falling light as the sun painted the breaking waves reds and oranges before slipping silently behind the edge of the world. Still in need of a camp I was just on the edge of town when I pitched my tent on a big flat and grassy field, somewhere between the half way line and the try line of the local rugby field with the rolling surf hitting the sand just a stones throw over the back fence. After this point there wasn't a lot of riding to go. a quick jaunt up to Greymouth and a hop over a small hill to Murchison and finally into Nelson.

Jess and I on the final days ride to Nelson
In a the small town of Ross (population 300 people and 300 dogs) a touch shy of Greymouth I was looking to fill my water bottles at the pub when I  noticed the publican sitting outside with a beer. He just told me to go behind the bar and help myself to the tap. A couple of people were sitting outside on picnic tables in the sun enjoying a brew so I sat down and have a rest with them when a lady riding a beater bike and wearing gumboots rolled over. "I've been looking everywhere for my goat" she said "have you seen him anywhere"? "yeah" replied one of the guys behind me "he wandered down the road bout an hour ago so I tied him to the telephone pole" sure enough across the road was a big healthy looking billy goat gruff who trotted off leisurely on his lead as his owner biked away. Only on the west coast I thought.

My bridge about 50km from Nelson
In Murchison I was eating a healthy sized goody goody gum drops ice cream when someone on the street called my name. It took me a moment squinting into the sun to realize it was old room mate from Te Anau who also worked as a sea kayak guide in the fiords a couple of summers ago. Jess took me in and we had a big Bbq at her bosses house and I had a wash in something other than a river for the first time since leaving Wanaka. Jess was also good enough to bike out with me in the morning towards Nelson on her new roady which made me jealous just looking at it but it was fantastic to have the company all the same.

Riding home. Wakefield
It was up to the hope saddle and then a short climb up the spooners range where I got my first glance of nelson since leaving there over nine months previously and from there it was a coast into the valley and into Wakefield. Needing some food I pulled over right at the same moment a car had stopped and the occupants were waving furiously. Mum and Dad had come out to see me with a picnic lunch under a tree along the main road. As the last 10kms ticked by Mum insisted on getting a few more snap shots while dad mounted his mountain bike and peddled along beside me setting a pace I was not accustomed to obviously unaware I was carrying 40kgs worth or weight on the frame.

Dad and I riding home
And then, without fanfare or consequence it was over! I rode the last few meters up the drive into the garage where I dismounted and lent Doris up against the wall. 23000kms, 28 countries, 2 wheels 4 bags and a sore bum later, that is that, all over and not to be repeated for a long time. It was certainly with a heavy heart I set about making the final days of the trip but a good friend suggested this to me. "You cant start the next adventure until you have finished this one" and with that and the sun in my face I biked all the way home to my family with a big smile on my face and a few stories under my belt.

Mum, Dad, Me and of course Doris. Finished!!

Thursday 26 January 2012

Eels, Kayaks, Rain and Fish

I have been nestled at the bottom of the world for a few days now and only because of a study start date looming am I inclined to leave. I made it to Queenstown after a fantastic flight showcasing the beautiful mountain ranges the South Island has on offer.

Mitre Peak, Milford Sound
Not so common although not shocking was the large amount of fresh snow lying on the mountain tops as a result of the cool southerly recently whipping the country. I could hear the murmuring of the Aussie tourists on the plane taking in the view and wondering out loud if the summer weight jumper they brought with them was going to suffice.

I would find it particularly difficult to explain how I feel when I set foot back in Aotearoa so I shall not try as I am sure any returning person has the same butterflies in their stomach when arriving home. Through all of the 28 countries I have traveled some have been flat and some have been mountainous, some have great ocean views and others have large warm lakes. Despite this I could not help but be a giddy school boy when I set out towards Te Anau even throwing an old school fist pump as I mounted Doris (who for some reason did not go back together nearly as well as she came apart in Melbourne). Making it as far as Athol, camp was no more than a farmers field just off the road and it is fair to say it was one of the coldest nights I have had in a long while.

Enjoying Doubful Sound on a cruise boat
There was snow again on the surrounding hills and the valley were Athol resides is a bucket for cold air where even my intense shivering would not warm up the sleeping bag. A quick glance at the temperature gauge just after 8am suggested it was no more than 4 deg so it was no wonder my toes were painfully red in my open toed sandals. Stopping for breaky in Mossburn did not help the cause as my breath was more visible in the cafĂ© than it had been outside, I can hear a big cheer for Europe’s double glazed windows and central heating as I write this.

It became apparent very quickly there has been a lack of rain in the south. With the fire rating at extreme, the grass looked more like what I had come to expect in Australia than the lush green I know here. I was later told of the 4-5 week stretch of amazing sunshine the farmers had been enduring in this neck of the woods, and saw it for myself as I crossed Lake Manapouri en route to Doubtful Sound as the trees on the lakes edge had turned a rusty brown for lack of water.

Paddling in the rain
As luck would have it the second wettest place in the whole world did not disappoint with 2 inches of precipitation falling over a couple of hours and a wicked wind racing down the Fiord clocked at just over 70 knots, which we enjoyed over a hot chocolate with chocolate fish aboard the Patea Explorer. KT (the kayaking guide) deciding it was a bit sporty to get amongst. Fortunately the wind abated and the rain eased for a paddle in this land of shadows the following morning before we returned to Te Anau for fish and chips on the lake front bathed in beautiful sunshine, another wonder of this spectacular area.

Long finned eels out of lake Te Anau
A friend of mine who once took me up Mitre Peak in Milford Sound suggested we use the strong wind to have a sail on the lake. Although it was sunny there had been another shift in the wind and it was now racing from the North West down the mountains and across the lake. Sounding like a good idea I was given a crash course in sailing as our boat listed to a point where we lost the wind over the top of the sail. When some sizeable waves began to crash over the bow we decided we had endured enough and set a course for home and a bbq on the hill overlooking the lake.

Never one to miss out on the chance for an adventure KT had the truck packed and ready to go one evening, telling me we were off for an eel. Taking our sleeping bags down to where the Upakaroa river meets Lake Te Anau we caught two large slimy eels (one speared and one on a hand line) under a million stars slowly becoming engulfed by another front coming from the south.
KT Awesome with a Jock Stewart
We never made it through the night however, the imminent rain had us racing to get to the house back in town before everything went pear shaped. Still, it was a successful eel adventure. More successful than the following days fishing in Doubtful Sound with Billy, the Deep Cove hostel manager. A few hours on a line and we had a barracuda on board with a small shark and a number of Jock Stewarts thrown back to the sea gods for someone else to deal with. Than night billy cooked us a feed of crayfish and chicken. I could not believe it, not crayfish again!! And we all slept soundly to the sounds of weka picking through the undergrowth for grubs and the shrill squark of keas in the Beach Trees nearby.
Doubtful sound

Unfortunately another front will be coming through this afternoon on this my intended day of departure and as I sit here in bed looking at the rain hit the window and the wind raking branches across the tin roof I may well remain here and hope for a better day tomorrow for which to continue my adventure north. I will be heading to Queenstown then over the Crown range to Wanaka and towards the Gates of Haast and head north along the West coast road. As yet I do not know the final few days route into Nelson but I have plenty of thinking time before I need to make that decision.

Friday 13 January 2012

Aussie Aussie Aussie

It is fair to say the last week and a half have been as dramatic a change in the environment as any in the previous eight months. I went from the sweltering heat of the Nullarbor plains to the incredibly challenging southerly winds heading towards Adelaide, to torrential rain, hail and freezing winds in South Australia and Victoria. The major difference was the turning of the wind. For the first time in as long as I can remember the wind was at my back and really pumping me along. I kept this heading for the best part of a week and have now arrived via the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne ready to board a flight to Nz in the morning and get the final leg of the trip underway.
 My decision to take the southern most route was based on the continuing praise I encountered for the Great Ocean Road, essentially a make work scheme from after the first world war, and for the most part I was not disappointed. From the point where I first entered it took a little over 20kms to actually see the ocean by which point I was getting frustrated and feeling ripped off. But then, in fairly spectacular fashion the Southern Ocean stretched out in front of me, dramatically churned over by the strong onshore breeze. The pounding of the surf on the steep cliffs roared throughout the day and the riding became a mixture of undulating hills and running for cover as another clearly visible squall rolled off the ocean and spat icy rain at me. The coast itself was truly a sight to view as the road came close to the edge. A steep drop off eroded by years of weather systems battering the limestone walls gave way to the beautiful aqua green of a shallow ocean before the darker blue suggested another shelf beneath the waves. I am sure it would seem a completely tranquil place in calmer weather.
 Because it is a national park I had to make my camping arrangements as hidden as possible to avoid incurring a fine but circumstances led me once again to camp in plain sight at the 12 Apostles viewing area. Just off the trail leading to the cliffs edge my tent sprang up and looked like it could have been part of the scenery if you thought at all to look that direction. Either way I had a peaceful night listening to the waves crashing and the cracking of my tent poles as the wind tried its best to splinter and break my accommodation. The following morning was much of the same with the exception of the cliffs giving way to a more graduated and less dramatic coastline but the sandy beaches were a beautiful distraction from the continuous riding.

I met an English couple in Apollo bay or thereabouts where we sat over peanut butter sammies taking in the nice afternoon sun talking about our respective trips. Two of the most inspiring people I have met on the road they have made the trek from London to Australia and will complete their journey in New Zealand in the coming months. We rode together to the small city of Geelong where they had a place to stay through a cycling website called warm showers. Long story short I ended up staying with them at Maxine’s house and even had the opportunity to ride with her the following morning as I headed towards Melbourne. Maxine is retired and an avid bike rider sporting a lovely trek bike and a shock of grey hair she pushed me as hard as I could manage for the best part of an hour before she decided to turn back. It must have been a sight, a 60 something lady cruising effortlessly with a 20 something chap with a overloaded bike sweating profusely trying, often in vein to keep up to her speed. Never the less we made a trip through the back roads and said goodbye as she turned for home and I made my way to the skyscrapers and towers of one of Australias biggest cities.

Along the coast I past another wildlife sign for Koalas. Not having seen many of these signed creatures I did not have high hopes for seeing this unique animal but as luck would have it I managed to spy one high up in a gum tree swaying with the gusty wind. I thought I should at least have a look around for one and low and behold at that very moment I spied what looked like a furry bum in the trees. After spending some time watching this furry bum eventually it moved and I was rewarded with a great look at its adorable fluffy ears and big black nose and beady eyes. I wandered through the trees for a closer and better look all the while under the curious gaze of the Koala.

On the outskirts of Melbourne I managed to meet with a friend whom I first me in Canada and worked with at an outdoor camp. We learned to canoe together and it has been great to catch up with roo (actual name, I don’t think his parents liked him).

For the final time on this journey Doris has been put in a bike box and had her wheels and peddles removed for another plane ride. Tomorrow afternoon some time we will arrive In Queenstown and begin the relatively short trip home to Nelson to where it all began almost nine moth ago.

It took 29 days with two days off to cross from Perth to Melbourne covering 3600 kms in the process. Most of it was tough riding but all of it was great fun and a beautiful wilderness environment. I take my hat off to the farmers and workers of the land on the arid hot and dusty plains. I am very much looking forward to biking the west coast road and I hope I can convince some people to come and ride with me for a few days. Its been nice to be around people again, something I hadn’t given a lot of thought for a number of weeks.

8 months of my life right there 
Aotearoa here we come, we’ve been missing you.

Wednesday 4 January 2012


It all started off ok and it seemed the heat people talked about was not going to be the big issue I was concerned about. For a few days I continued on my way largely keeping to myself but for the stops for water and greasy burgers at the Roadhouses spotted infrequently along the way. These stops were frequented by the substantial amount of caravans and RVs travelling the road not to mention the large number of road trains some of which are three trailers long and pushing a substantial amount of wind in front of them as they pass the opposite direction. All in all, the road is in good condition and interesting enough to bike along.

The roadhouses along the way are mostly for people to get fuel but most also offer some kind of takeaway food and the beginnings of a convenience store, massively overpriced and low in selection but not one to shy away from high calorie food I was all over it like a fat kid on a cupcake. This is also where I would meet a lot of the interesting nomadic people that are Aussies travelling Australia in their early retirement years, most often with a sizeable RV in tow. High in praise and never short of a helpful tip they were fantastic characters, some of which I saw again throughout the course of the ensuing two weeks.

Nullarbor Plain
I never stayed at the houses, instead choosing to take my chances in the bush and road side pullouts where there was often the luxury of a table and the relief of getting off the ant infested dirt. At one such place I had my bottles filled by a charming camper who gave me some solid wildlife advice. “what” I asked, “should I do if a snake decides to slither on past while I am setting up my camp?” “Easy mate, stamp your feet like this (as he wobbled from side to side from one foot to the other) so they feel the vibrations and they will go away”. “And spiders?” “shouldn’t be a problem mate, just don’t go looking for things and you should’t find em”. I took this advice for a few days until I felt I had encountered a lack of wildlife so I took a long stick and a good torch and went for a wander one night. Turns out spiders of all shapes and sizes are quite readily found and interestingly enough the larger the spider the more likely it is to attack the stick where the smaller ones seem more likely to scurry away.  For better or worse the two snakes I have seen have both been at some distance on the road and not a concern for Doris and me.

Great Australian Bight
The most wonderful thing about Australia is the abundance of many types of birds. Big ones, loud ones (lots of loud ones), colourful ones, chirpy ones, and everything in between. I was sitting under a small bush fighting with the ants for the shade reading a book sometime in the mid morning when a flock of parrots each no bigger than my shoe came to investigate what I was up to. As they came in close and flapped gracefully around me I could feel the slightest touch of feathers as they kissed my face moving in closer as I stayed statue still. One of the birds landed on my head and proceeded to stomp around like a cat would trying to get the best position to have a sit down, which is exactly what this feathered creature did. As its mates continued to fly about me this one sat down and made itself quite at home on my head watching the world as if this was the most normal thing in the world. Doris also had a visit and with the passing of a road train the birds took flight in an impressive explosion of green yellows and reds back to the gum trees nearby.

Great Australian Bight
Against all friendly suggestions I went for a bike into the night. I was determined to see some wildlife and fortunately I managed through this endeavour to spot a couple of cheeky Kangaroos, a fox and what I think was a Dingo so it proved a worthwhile effort. That night also produced the longest ride of the trip, clicking just over 200kms for the days ride. A first for me and something I have wondered if I could do for a while.
There is a plague of mice at the moment and they are certainly not shy about making their presence known at the campsite. As the sun dips behind the western horizon in a blaze of beautiful colours the little pintsized rodents come out to play. They run over my feet and up my legs and if left unattended will continue over my back and head and wherever they like. Entertaining to a point but without an off button they can become a pain. Especially when they latch onto any part of you that is touching the mesh door of the tent at night.
Biking out along the longest wooden pier in Australia I came upon a group of Crab fisherman throwing their nets over the side into the shallow water and pulling up big blue crabs with almost every cast. One young lad could not wait to show me the biggest crab he had caught that day.

Fan to keep the sheep cool
Most people want to know about the water situation on the ride. Its fair to say that I have been carrying slightly more than I need but at the same time I would carry that much again. Over the last three weeks I have almost drank my body weight in water but it seems not to be a problem getting it when I need it. Across the plains I was getting it from campervans who would stop for me on the road side as well as the road houses, although they advised me not to drink as they didn’t. When they failed to give me a good reason I took that to mean they just wanted me to buy it at extortionate prices in the shop. There are a few rain water tanks along the way and a couple of tanks filled up periodically at road side pullouts and I make sure this is a last resort as its possible the water is not great quality. So not too many issues there.

Road signs, classic
As for the temperatures, I have had a couple of scorching days in the last week. The average temp has been around 40deg but in the sun on the road has been even hotter. The local news suggested the road was melting not 5o km from where I had just ridden and with my temperature gague maxing out at 50deg by 11am I was not surprised to hear this. I was a little shocked when I sunk up to my rims in sticky black tar as I peddled across a balding patch of road during the middle of the day. A bit of a far cry from the relative mild summer temperatures in Southern Europe when I was there and the winter temperature of -10deg in Scandinavia.

Blue crab Fisherboy
Original length, damaged by fire or storm. Conflicting Stories
Finally, it was with amazement that I wandered so close to the edge of the Australian land mass and tentatively peered over the edge. The huge cliffs are truly amazing and a breathtaking sight. The Great Australian Bight known well for its whale migrations each year is a beautiful blue and the big waves crashing into the shore make a thundering sound during the star studded night. Signs suggest to keep well back and the fence makes this suggestion even more apparent but the lure of the edge was too much and I had to take a look. Well worth it to see the ocean again in such glory and lucky enough to follow close enough to the edge for the next week or so.

Now in Adelaide I am staying with the parents of a cyclist I met in Paris (thanks Clint) and having a much much needed day off, sorting out some new shoes for Doris and recharging my batteries. Headed for the Great Ocean Road and Melbourne where the Aussie leg will finish.


Leaving London was meant to be a relatively easy maneuver and it was in the end but for a minor mishap leaving me a few minutes to spare before I would have been left behind by the airline. I was filling in time before I took to the immacuately well planned route to the airport from Sebs apartment on the edge of Londons CBD. It was however a careless moment when I let the self locking door snap shut behind me as I left for what would have been the second last time to put the finishing touches on my bike box that was sitting in the hallway. In one of those moments you simply accept as fate, if or not you even believe in such a thing, I had been given Sebastian's business card as he left for his very important corporate job in the morning.

Dirty red dirt
It was this very card I found in my pocket as I made a credit card call from the nearest pay phone down the road. Fortunately Seb answered and said he would meet me half way on the tube. Unfortunately I was in a light sweater with no shoes and even more unfortunately I had one foot with painted toenails from my stay with Siobhan in East Grinstead the few days before. But as you may have worked out it all ended well and I made the flight landing in Perth where I made my way into the hot and dry plains of the Nullarbor region.

Straight out of Perth the same day I was very excited and full to the rafters with farmbake cookies, snake lollies and fruitcake not to mention the 12 liters of water I had decided to carry just in case. With all this I was as heavy as I have been at any point over the last 8 months and poor Doris really felt sluggish at first but then warmed into her own as the kms ticked by.

Mice everywhere
First the heat and the wind began to wear me out so I took refuge in my tent or better yet under the shade of a big tree during the hottest part of the day. Mornings are a pure joy to be riding and in the evenings as the sun is setting over my shoulder is even more fantastic. The temperature drops to a manageable zone and the cars are all but off the road and its as pleasant as pleasant can be. The first night out of Perth I was feeling a little woozy when I stopped at a pullout to make my camp. Without dinner and a little dehydrated after the excellent London catch up I was suffering and went to bed accordingly. Some time through the long night I woke and exited the tent in barely enough time to avoid puking all over the inside before repeating the exercise until I had nothing left but for the sticky green stuff at the end of it all. I dont really know what happened from this point but I remember having a hell of a temperature and I opened my eyes at one stage to see the sun poping over the horizion as my tent door was facing north east. That was the end of that day as I knew it as the next time I woke it was in the wee hours of the following morning again as the sun was poking over the edge of the earth and warming its edges. 34 hours without leaving the tent and I was good to go albeit slowly, on the road heading east and into the outrageous sun that this area is famous for.
Road train. Note Doris at the front wheel holding her own

Camel made from a roof
I followed the water pipeline originating from Perth and supplying all the outlying towns and mining communities their vital resource as well and making sure the public gardens are kept wonderfully green and lush in the main centres. I had no idea when I entered the state of Western Australia at the scale of the mining industry but it is epic. Over 2000 mines in this state alone was what I am told. At a small mining town called Norseman at the entrance to the Nullarbor Plains I had come in from a long ride and saw to the need to extract cash from a hole in the wall. As I was doing so I got chatting with a couple of 30 something burly lads who were curious to a point about what I was up to. Being that they were shifting from day to night shifts they had the following morning off so it was down to the pub for a couple of cold ones to the soulful sounds of karaoke sliding through the open doors and out onto the street. 

Not letting me reach into my wallet all evening I was impressed that these guys had work the following day and they looked after me well into the night. To that end one of them let me sleep on the floor of their 'dog house' as he called it and took me to the mess in the morning. "just walk like a minor" he said, "if anyone asks just say you are a driller and starting tomorrow" and that was that. All the spread of a well established restaurant with a spot to make a lunch for myself as I left. Needless to say I filled up with as much as I could carry and headed out to photograph the old roof made into a camel.
A very straight, windy and dry section

 The nights are truly amazing here as the light pollution is extremely low. Although I do not have the slightest clue about most of the constellations that make up the night sky, I find myself getting lost in them, staring for hours and loving the fact that they are once again the southern stars. Continually the song seven bridges road by the eagles runs through my head despite the fact the southern stars from the song are in southern California, it still feels like an appropriate song for this time of the trip. 
Fixing another tent pole by torch light

                                                                               With a heavy head I got up from my stay in Norseman and headed into the burning sun, rolling East and beginning the Nullarbor crossing, a journey of which nobody said 'mate that sounds like a great idea' when I told them I was planning on doing it at this time of the year.
Nothing can stop Doris. Perth, Australia