Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Big Aussie Road Trip

It was building-up, I had been itching for another long tour after a year of shorter ones, and it has come to this.  This is an epic trip lasting approximately 5 and a half months, which includes the crossing of Australia from coast to coast from West to East (and most of the way East to West).

Along the way, I will be crossing the Nullarbor, meeting the Quokkas, getting reacquainted with my scuba diving skills, passing through some iconic outback areas, and finishing with the Great Barrier Reef.

This is going to be unlike any trip I have done before.  This time I am working as I go - online as an English teacher.  This means I won't be doing huge daily stints on the bike, although sometimes it is necessary, like across the Nullarbor, for example, as there isn't much water or supplies available and just needs to be done as soon as possible.

On my other tours, I have planned them reasonably thoroughly, but had a lot of leeway and played it by ear quite a bit.  On this tour, my work means that I have to plan carefully and make sure I schedule work where I know I have access to the internet.  It'll be interesting to see how this goes, but I think I can do it without too much trouble.  The beauty of having done a few tours before doing a more serious one like this is that I know the sort of distances I can cover, I know the conditions, and I have some idea of what can slow me down.  All this knowledge makes it much easier to know where I'll be at any given time.

Over 5 months is a long time to be on the road, and with about 4 months in New Zealand afterwards, this makes it even longer.  Anyone who knows anything about me understands that I don't mind my own company, but everyone has their limits.  You, of course, meet people on the way, and I may meet my wife at certain junctures, but I thought that I needed a way of making contact with the locals and breaking the ice.  For this reason, I'll be packing my squash rackets this time and dropping into as many squash clubs as I can along the way.  This should give me a good way of connecting with people and also stop me getting too rusty on court.  Squash clubs don't come around too often on this trip, though, they average out at about one every 1 - 2 weeks.

As well as the squash rackets, I'll be packing a bit of extra kit on this tour.  I'll have my laptop for work and just in case I don't have easy access to power sockets, I will also be carrying a powerbank with solar panels to help power the electronics through the great expanses between towns.  This all adds weight, so things might be tougher, especially uphill, but with much less mileage planned each day, it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

The new kit for this tour.
Also included in the new kit (on the far left of this picture) is a lifestraw, which is my emergency way of getting water.  You basically stick it any freshwater and suck up the water.  On the way to your mouth it filters-out and kills any harmful bacteria, so it can be drunk safely.  You can even drink from stagnant pools of water.  It won't filter-out minerals though, so you can't drink saltwater, for example.


There are a few places that I am really looking forward to seeing along the way:

The Flinders Ranges - an iconic mountain range in South Australia, this short detour (short for Australia anyway) is my first real point of interest, about 3 weeks into the tour.

Port Lincoln - famous for it's Great White Shark cage diving, I may be tempted by a trip out on the water, although it is very expensive and will depend on whether they have been spotted in the region at the time, as I will be there just outside of prime time when the fur seal pups take their first swims in perilous waters.

The Nullarbor - a famous road trip in Australia.  I don't know if I am really looking forward to it because it is well-over a thousand kilometres of basically nothing.  But I've heard the the Great Australian Bight, the longest stretch of unbroken sea cliffs in the world is quite a sight.

Rottnest Island - this island is situated just West of Perth, and along with beautiful scenery is home to an odd smiling little marsupial called a Quokka.  Another unique Australian animal to tick-off the list.

Shark Bay - famous for lots of sharks (who would've thought), dugongs, and other marine life, I'll be stopping here for a few days and getting out on the water.

Coral Bay - snorkeling and diving opportunities here, and is especially famous for swims with whale sharks, which frequent the waters on a regular basis.

Karijini National Park - pure remote outback scenery, with red rocks and pools of water between caverns and gorges, cut right out of the earth.

Purnulu National Park (The Bungle Bungles) - famously unique sandstone towers and canyons.  One of the most iconic genuine Australian places you can imagine.

The Great Barrier Reef - I finish-up in Cairns and stay a week here, so diving is a must, especially as I have a friend who has a house sitting there empty and doesn't mind me staying.  As well as the diving, Cairns is famous for it's rainforest scenery, which will be quite something after all the arid areas I will have gone through on this trip.

I will update the blog every 2-3 weeks, depending on the frequency of places of interest and if any other intriguing things happen.  In the meantime, though, I have a couple of blogs to write-up from my recent trip to the US. 

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