Carnarvon Take Two

Trip Start Apr 13, 2011
Trip End Jul 13, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Saturday, May 21, 2011

Our bikes have also been the cause of much hand-wringing, so now's as good a time to mention that saga as any. Prior to leaving Melbourne, I decided we should not risk bringing our nice city bikes with us, as I didn’t want mine wrecked and didn’t want to risk them being pinched. We didn’t have much spare time up our sleeves, so I spent some time checking out the Gumtree website, and we looked in some of the local shops. Someone gave me the name of a bloke who restored second hand bikes, and it seemed a good idea to chase him up and send some business his way. We are always happy to support the small-scale entrepreneur, but I have to say, we get burned a little too often and I am starting to wonder whether it’s time to start thinking a little less charitably. "Bike John" seemed to have the answer to our prayers – a “his and hers” pair of “brand new” but unused mountain bikes. I sent Paddy out to look at them and yes, they were fine – old stock but as yet unridden, they “just” needed new tyres as the old ones had perished as they sat in someone’s garage or the back of a shop somewhere. Ha ha. Well, John was kind enough to acquire some tyres for us, so he was actually our last stop on the way out of Melbourne on Day 1. We threw them in the back and thought no more of it until Kalgoorlie, when Paddy purchased four new tubes for them. These also got slung in the back for later. 

“Later” arrived when Paddy decided to spend a quiet moment in Carnarvon refurbishing them, so we could ride around town on them as intended. There was way too much cursing coming from the “workshop” for my liking, so I poked my nose around the trailer to find that the girl in Kalgoorlie had sold us tubes with the wrong valves, so we couldn’t pump the tyres up with the pump we were carrying. In addition, the funky new tyres were not quite the same size as the wheels. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the bikes now have four new tyres and four new tubes, but they also have four little bulges that make a kind of plopping noise when you ride over them, as they are too big for the wheels. It's a bit like riding over a speed hump every rotation of the wheel. Might be able to sell them to a convent when we are done with them!

We have come to the conclusion it would have been cheaper and easier to just walk into a Kmart somewhere and buy two new bikes off the shelf. These two are also 100% useless on the resale market, and we have now scratched them to bits in the back of the trailer as well, so any value they had as "sort of new but not really" has well and truly cancelled itself out. You live and learn, but it does frustrate me how often you try to do the right thing and it turns out to make life more complicated for you. We have kept John off the dole for a week or two, so I guess that’s a good thing. I hope he is enjoying life, as we sure are not enjoying our bike rides as much as we could have been! We laugh about it, though, as it means we have mountain bike conditions even when we ride on bitumen. The nomads can’t tell the difference, so they are still mightily impressed with our energy!

My God, we have eaten well in Carnarvon! The freshest of veges from the roadside stalls and plump, fresh fish every night bar one. We only skipped that night because we went to the Asian noodle shop for lunch and ate massive big meals there (also with fresh prawns) that were so filling that even Miss Piggy wasn’t hungry at dinner time. The people in Carnarvon should be the healthiest in Australia if you look at the diet they could be eating. I suspect beer, ciggies and a bit of complacency interferes with this in many cases, but they certainly have the capacity to be living like kings and queens if they want to. The fish is not cheap, but it is amazing. The veges are both cheap and amazing. We went on a tour of the Bumbak Plantation, although we were a bit nervous about it maybe being a bit of a tourist trap. However, our tour leader and one of the owners of the plantation, Jo, turned out to be an angel in disguise. She spent about an hour after the tour chatting about other things, including some hot tips for alternatives to the tourist hothouse that Coral Bay has become. She also told us heaps about the damage the December floods have done to local businesses, so we spent some time looking around more perceptively at the chaos down the backroads, as we followed the "foodie" trail she had outlined for us, which meant we could collect a good variety of fresh produce for our trip north.

I am leaving Carnarvon scratching like a flea-ridden dog. We made the mistake of visiting Miaboolya Beach and lying on the sand for a while after a dip. It’s supposed to be a swimming beach, but it wasn’t overly stunning and perhaps we should have been warned off by the muddy track we had to drive on to get to it, as well as the fact that the only signs at the beach were related to fishing and for some reason, were printed in both English and Vietnamese. In fact, the only reason we could think of for going to Miaboolya again was if you were a boat person trying to enter Australia illegaly, because it didn't really have much else going for it. I have never seen so many sandflies in one place - we were literally wiping them off our faces in handfuls. I am now covered in welts so itchy that I want to scratch down to the bone. Even antihistamines and a special anaesthetic cream from the chemist have not kicked in yet. 

We keep hearing that Coral Bay is just like Noosa, which has scared us off a bit, as that's not our natural habitat, so on Jo's advice we are delaying the inevitable with a trip out to Quobba Station, just north of the Blowholes, for a few days. According to her, there's perfectly good snorkelling to be had at this far south end of the Ningaloo Reef. If this plan works, we can skip Coral Bay altogether, as we haven't come all this way for a latte with a million other city-slickers; we have come to explore the nooks and crannies of the real WA. Plenty of time for latte in the place where it's done the best! Mind you, I have not gone without my caffeine pleasures. Every morning, I treat myself to one perfect coffee, brewed on the mudguard of the trailer in my new percolator. After much deliberation, I purchased it specially to keep me sane on this trip, and so far it seems to be doing the trick, so that was money very well spent. I should be able to claim it back on my health insurance, I reckon!
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Lucy on

That bit about the bikes and the swearing from the workshop made me splutter laughing! I can just hear him....!!!

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