Day 67, 11th May, Balaklava – Adelaide (101km) [End]

So it was finally here. The last day of cycling, all being well. Waking early at Balaklava Caravan Park, in my rain soaked spot on the grass that probably wasn’t actually part of the caravan park but part of the adjoining public park but which was where I’d been placed by the caravan park caretaker, I ate the last of my museli and tried to imagine what rolling into Adelaide that afternoon would be like. The weather report, specifically the wind report, had me prepared for a headwind for the duration of my last day (I’ll insert a thanks for mobile internet), and so today was an early start. I was saddled up and heading out into the overcast gloom of the day by 8.30.

The headwinds, in the end, whilst constant weren’t devastating. This is probably testament as much as anything to my practiced legs. And so I peddled on making good time safe in the knowledge that I could knacker myself out without consequence for the next day.

I came through a small crossroads town called Mallala around 11 where I stopped for an early lunch. The lovely ladies there made me up an epic vegetarian sandwhich that included egg, cheese, beetroot and all the salads. It was really very fantastic, not least because I washed it down (figuratively speaking) with a carton of eggnog flavoured milk. What a lunch!

I was very hungry today, and in addition to several museli bars and a banana I also chomped a snickers and a mars bar. Everything, even these bars, today tasted great.

I managed to avoid the main road for a bit, taking instead a zigzag of suburban roads. It eventually, however, became practical to head  onto the artery road of the A1. This was not a fun road, but it was direct. I’ve never seen, or at least its been a long while, so many cars. All dancing in concert with each other. An industrial dystopian ballet. Though I was feeling a bit sensitive at the time.

The A1, or Princes Highway, delivered me smack bang in the centre of Adelaide. By good fortune this was also where I was going to meet my hosts during my stay here in Adelaide.

Not met by banners and champagne, but instead just sitting on the grass in Victoria Square, blending in with the crowds, I was reminded of the emancipatory element of alienation tied in with large cities as I waited unchallenged for Anna, one of my hosts, to meet me.

So yes, I’m here in Adelaide. 2082 miles (3331 km) over 67 days (incl. 23 days WWOOFing), and with 0 punctures. Yay.

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Day 66, 10th May, Kadina – Balaklava (80km)

Today marks my penultimate day of cycling. I’m almost at Adelaide, and therefore almost at the end of my journey. I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit, as especially have my knees. Poor little things, they’ll be happy for the break.

From Kadina, after politely declining the offer of a frozen fish from one of the caravan permanents as I was packing up this morning, I made my way along the main road towards Adelaide. There were a few hills to climb, but it was mostly fairly gentle. A steep decline on the way down had me scooting along at 53km/hr, the fastest I’ve been for many weeks now. It was another reminder that I’m definitely going the right way, west to east.

 

As I found myself closer to Port Wakefield, turning into an Adelaide artery, the road also became much busier. I was very happy to turn onto a much quieter road at Port Wakefield, following a brief 2nd lunch again of course of my staple cheese and vegemite sandwiches (made from my remaining ingredients that, save the vegemite, had begun to slightly ferment), complimented by a malt vanilla milk beverage (I wish we had these in the UK, yay for the Aussie dairy board’s muscle!) as I cast a slight detour via the curiously named Balaklava. The roads into Adelaide tomorrow will also be quieter for this, and I’m happy already it was a good choice.

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Balaklava itself is a very friendly small town, and I have a sense of feeling welcome here. After putting my tent up to air and dry out – it hadn’t rained, but the early morning dew had settled onto my tent, not dried out because I’d accidentally put my tent up in the shade, and the moisture had permeated through in its packed state – and taking a shower, I went for a wander through town. There can’t be more than 1000 people living here, yet it feels big. I wonder how I’m going to cope with my encountering Adelaide tomorrow, population 1,100,000.

 

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Day 65, 9th May, Cowell – [+ ferry] – Kadina (27km)

As I’d found myself in Cowell a bit earlier than expected I changed the ferry I was booked on yesterday so I’d arrive on the York Peninsula at lunch time instead of in the dark. I could have kept cycling on to Port Wakefield, but I decided to embrace the relaxed pace of the day and only cycle an extra 10km from the ferry port at Walaroo on to Kadina.

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(Conjures in my mind complimentary activities of a starfish and sea anemone petting.)

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The sailor man instructed me to put my bike by the bin.  I presume the bin was more of landmark than an explicit statement of how he felt about my choice of transport.  You can see a group of bikies (riders of motorcycles) in the background of this photo.  After getting a bit of stick from them for “being nuts” for cycling across the Nullarbor, I later on chatted to a couple of them on the top of the boat and between us we reached a consensus of solidarity between folks on two wheels largely in response to the threats of cars and trucks and in the face of them our own vulnerability and mortality.  The group of bikies, it turns out, was on their way back from a funeral for a couple of biker friends.

Wilson, like myself, gravitates to red things.

A beautifully calm day between the peninsulas.  It often isn’t this calm apparently.

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Wallaroo.

The ferry was great. I especially like not knowing, and then discovering, what’s at the other side.

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The caravan park was absurdly expensive, but I managed to negotiate a more reasonable price and so I’ve set up camp at said caravan park. After a shower I wandered around town for a bit before coming to terms with not actually needing to buy anything. I suppose I’ve gotten used to being excited at the sight of a shop as an opportunity to replenish supplies, but with now just two days before I get to Adelaide I’ve no need to do anything more than use up my dwindling, but still sufficient, supplies. I did, however, manage to curb my consuming desires upon sighting a small (1L) bottle of homogenized milk at the local IGA (a Co-op). A welcome treat.

Feeling a bit want of anything much to do here. Caught between, I think, on the one hand a desire for closure on this cycling journey and a return to a non-tented and -bicycled ‘normality’, and on the other hand a recognition that the tenting and cycling has been long enough my day-to-day that it has become normal.

Day 64, 8th May, Lock – Cowell (117km)

I wasn’t originally planning on cycling the whole way to the coast today, but arriving in Cleve at 1pm left me plenty of time to cycle the additional 42km on to Cowell. I’m glad I did not least because Cowell is a beautiful little town that reminds me very much of Freo (Fremantle, just south of Perth). I was witness to a stunning sunset as I spoke with my partner Jo on the phone.

I’ve changed my booking tomorrow from the 4pm ferry to the 10.30am departure, and might even consider making some headway towards Adelaide post-ferry.

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Day 63, 7th May, Coodlie Park – Lock (114km)

It came time again to set off on my bicycle for the last push on to Adelaide to complete my cycle between the cities. I’d been advised by my hosts that I could cut out Elliston, saving 30km, via a 30km dirt road. Whilst slow going on the dirt road, it was a pleasurable cycle on an empty road under a warm sun. Listening to an audiobook once off the main road, made possible by a light tail wind that therefore wasn’t blowing in my ears, in addition to the almost complete absence of traffic,, I cycled joyfully the 114km to Lock.

The caravan park is small, unassuming, and very quiet, but all the better for it. Unassuming because the showers here are great and the facilities clean and even inviting. At the local post office, where I’d been instructed by the signage to pay my caravan park rates, I enjoyed a good chat with the local staff before returning round the corner to the caravan park to make my pasta and pesto dinner just as the sun was setting.

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Day 61, 5th May, Coodlie Park (WWOOF Day)

Waking up on the beach.

Joeri wanted to go fishing.

Joeri with a teeny salmon that was returned home to the sea shortly hereafter.

Jensen (I named him), patiently waiting in a rock pool to be free of the hook in its face. Jensen was also returned safely to the sea.

Shortly after Joeri gave up on the fishing and we clambered back across the rocks to haul our kit up the cliff and then drive back to the ranch for a late brunch. Joeri and M were kind enough to let me drive the 4km 4×4 track back (I can’t drive). It was good fun, even if I didn’t get any higher than 2nd gear/ 30km/hr, and nobody got badly burned.

After brunch, and showers, we all headed off down the road for a walk at Venus Bay.

Danger. Dancing stick men.

We sat out on a point up from Venus Bay watching a pod of about 20 dolphins doing their playful flopping about thing.

Jo, M and Joeri.

You can just about make out the dancing stick men underneath.

An odd posture.

Cliff’d coastline at the mouth of Venus Bay.

Venus Bay settlement.

Joeri on the tumbling cliffs.

A brief (or scoop) of pelicans floating purposefully to the jetty just as the fishermen and women start coming in.

Venus Bay jetty.

Post-walk coffee and milkshakes.

In the evening we played cards, shithead again, into the night.

Day 60, 4th May, Coodlie Park (WWOOF Day)

Painted some signs to mark a walking path to the beach here.

I particularly enjoyed, seriously, marking out and painting the lettering for the “all cars” sign.

Fire on the beach.

Sitting on the beach, warmed by the fire.

Sleeping on the beach. The fire kept up all night, still smouldering in the morning.