Day 17: Hitch hiking adventure

Given the state of buses and so forth, the only way to do the 250 mile / 400km round trip was to hitch hike. So by 7.30am I was standing outside the BP garage with my thumb out. Vehicles were sparse but it didn’t take long until a nice new Chevy truck pulled up. The fellow looked friendly and said he was going to Kalgoorlie. Score! He owned a real estate on the coast and used to be a cop so we had a good conversation. Before I knew it I was in town in the bike shop and good all I needed and more. After a quick coffee and cake at the Dome cafe (again) to make it worthwhile the bike shop lady gave me a ride to the outskirts of town. It was cold and raining, but luckily I only waited a few minutes. This time the ride was TOTALLY different, in a beat up old car driven by an old guy who didn’t like women much. We even stopped at a railway line to pick up iron ore so he could show me what it looked like. Interesting characters here. 

And so this is it, the difficult part of the trip across the nullabor begins in the morning. It will be tough but I think I am ready. I will message when I can!!

James



Hello from Norseman



Advertisements

Day 16: Too far

A word of advice – don’t run 76km / 48.1 miles in a day, pushing a buggy over hills. It will hurt. A lot. With a painful knee which I couldn’t bend I limped into Norseman a broken man. I found the mining camp where I had been generously given a free night (I was sad to learn it was a mile out of town!!), and Sonia had a steak dinner waiting for me. Heaven!! I made it.

The best part of that day was the car which pulled over. A couple got out and asked if I wanted a cup of tea or coffee! I said yes so they plugged in the kettle and we had a good chat! The guy was originally from the UK and was a gold propector, so while we waited he showed me the rocks around and what to look for in the Quartz. Awesome. They were super super nice and gave me the shirts off their backs.



Matt and Linda

On the run I had a decision to make – do I take a day and go back to Kalgoorlie to get more spares? I had been in the bike shop there already so it was infuriating!! I didn’t want to, but in the end it was the prudent thing to do. I guess this trip is changing me for the better, prudence is not much of a strength for me usually!

Rest day it is!

Day 15: It was the worst of times…

I set off in high spirits the next day, with a LONG 82 mile/132km 2 day stretch ahead. I’d noticed the previous day that my right hand buggy tire was warping. I did a rough patch job, figured it would be OK.

Nope. Less than a mile down the road I had a flat. It was soon fixed, and 100m further down the road I had another! And another! On the 4th attempt it held but it was a slow leak I had to pump every couple of miles. As I had limited spares as everything was holding up well until this point it was a disaster! I eventually made it to a town called Wigie, building numbering exactly 1, where I did the best repair job I could. But I was in no state to tackle the long nullabor now. Damn!



Me along the way

I spends a night camping, dreading the long run tomorrow as today had put me behind schedule. Oh the highs and lows…

Days 14: It was the best of times…

Hi! Sorry for the hiatus, a combination of no phone reception for days and being super tired!

I headed out from Kalgoorlie after visiting what is know as the ‘Superpit’, a vast open cast goldmine right up against the town. Getting to the edge is a sight, a hole 2 miles across, 1 mile wide and 1/3 mile deep. Even the huge trucks look like toys. Every 7 trucks carries about a golf balls size worth of gold. Crazy! See if you can find them in the photo below.



BIG hole

After getting in the local paper – http://news.yahoo.com/james-ready-stroll-nullarbor-021757880.html – and a wonderful breakfast at the Dome cafe courtesy of Libby I headed 37 miles/60km south to Kambalda. It was a fine run, although a bit hilly. On the way I got a message from my friend Matt, who I had met in Perth.

“Hey if you need a place to stay in Kambalda let me know,” he mentioned. Good timing. To cut a long story short, is friend didn’t seem likely to be back that night so I kept into town and found a hotel.

Well it turns out the people in Kambalda are incredible. It was posted on Facebook and by the end of the evening I had a free room at the mining accommodations in town (and Rick at Taps Plumbing reimbursing me!), food, and a place to stay in Norseman. AND people were driving up and down the highway to find me. INCREDIBLE! I can’t thank Gareth, Matt, Alex, Dave, Rick and Sonia enough, truly a great experience!



Dave – Legend!



Day 12, 13: A Glorious Rest!

I set off from Coolgardie for the final 25 miles / 40km stretch to Kalgoorlie and a rest day! It was cool and cloudy in the morning as the wind was blowing up from the south, so I was flying. I did have a brief rest stop whereupon a pickup truck stopped next to me. 2 guys leaned over. “G’day mate!” They said, and we started a good chat. One asked if I knew much about the bush, which I didn’t. So with that he pulled his truck onto the traffic island I was resting on and got out before disappearing into the forest! He returned after a bit holding a small orange stone. “It’s ocre, the aboriginals use it for paint,” and preceded to write over the traffic island! It was bright yellow/orange. He wrote a bible phrase and we had a quite long ‘discussion’ about its meaning. Never thought I’d be discussing Jesus at the roadside with two gold miners!

From there I was soon in Kalgoorlie. Interesting place! My hostel was right opposite Australia’s oldest (and still working) brothel! Tours at 3pm if you fancy! My sister visited kalgoorlie several years ago on the train, from Adelaide to Perth, and one of her fellow passengers took the tour… And never came back! So his luggage went to Perth while he did not! Genius.



Um, tour anyone..?

One of my friends  (more accurately one of my sisters friends) had arranged a present and messages at a old school cafe an the tourist info office in town. So wonderful to be welcomed – thank you Libby!! It made a wonderful start to my rest day. Now I’m off to the gold mine, the largest open cast mine in Australia. Let’s hope I accidentally fall over a large nugget!



A message awaits!

Tomorrow I am back on the road, Norseman and the the dreaded nullabor awaits!

Until then!



Days 9, 10, 11: Working the road works

The long journey from Southern Cross is done! Next time I’m going to plan it properly! I’ve arrived in Coolgardie feeling good and with but a drop of water left. Perfect planning? You tell me.

The big adventure of the last few days began yesterday afternoon. It has been HOT here, reaching 38C/100F in the afternoons so running the later sessions has been tough. At 5pm and 32 miles/50km in I was looking for a campsite in a ditch at the side of the road but nothing! The whole road was a huge construction site, like they were building a freeway, and it just kept going. Not wanting to get inadvertently bulldozed the next morning so did I, and when the sun was disappearing behind the horizon I crossed a rise to see the construction workers site ahead, full of diggers and truck and with a few temporary buildings. This had to be it.

I’m teaching mysel on this trip to conquer my fears, and randomly walking into a road construction headquarters was one of them. No longer. A bunch of guys were standing around a truck having a couple of beers so I walked up and asked where I might put my tent so I wasn’t run over in the night.

“Right there, if you want, mate,” came the reply. “Hey, you’re that guy I saw running today?!” And so things went. They offered me use of the showers and kitchen (!) for which I am eternally grateful. Really nice bunch of guys (and one girl!).



Home for a night



The next morning they were up earlier than me and by the time I left at 7am they were all working. A radio call was put out by the safety people that a guy was running through their construction site, so as I was now a celebrity of sorts several stopped to say hi. It was fun! The only downside was that I needed a 3km escort in a truck when the road became dirt and one way only, surrounded by heavy machinery. Fair enough – and my driver Dave was a good chap! On the plus side, the next stretch of road was completed but not yet open, so I became the first public user of that road, ever! That’s a first for me! I also passed a camel farm – super cool road sign!



Beware the… camels?!



I soon made it to Coolgardie, an old mining town which is a bit of a ghost town. It reminds me of the OK Coral! 



4 days of runnin g an this is it!



One night here and tomorrow is Kalgoorlie and then a REST DAY!!

Thanks Folks!

Day 8: “Fancy a cold one..?”

One of the real joys of this trip so far has been the people I’ve met. Most have been wonderful, and some wonderful as well as odd. Yesterday was one of those. I was running along when a white van stopped next to me and a guy wound down the window before thrusting a can of ice cold Castelmaine XXXX beer at me. 

“Want a cold one?” He asked. 

“Uh… Sure.” I replied, not at all sure, “but is it OK if I save it for later?”

He somewhat protested that it would get warm by then, but as it was about 11am and I was half way through my first run I held firm. He pulled the van onto the shoulder and we had a good chat. It turns out he was from Transylvania and had escaped communism 30 years before and come to Australia, where he was an iron ore miner. Interesting guy, especially when he told me his dream was to drive a car around australia – backwards! What a character.

He left me with some extra snacks and the beer, and opened himself one as he drove off, not a great plan. Guess I should be careful on these roads. Speaking of which, here is today’s long road! The fields have ended and the forests have begun.



And on for forever

Until tomorrow folks!

Day 6 & 7: To infinity and beyond!

It has been a tough 2 days, mostly of my own volition. Deciding I needed a real bed for a night I set my heart on reaching the town of Southern Cross in two days, which was fine except it was 85 miles / 130km away. Anyway, off I went!

Both days have been pretty similar – fairly flat with wheat fields and occasional forests along the roadside. The two highlights were waving at a freight train on its way past and getting a toot on the horn (something my 2 yr old nephew would be jealous of) and the stars in the middle of nowhere at night. Truly amazing, the Milky Way just jumps right out, more stars than I could imagine! Makes me feel very small.

I also met a lovely old lady at a rest stop. She was absolutely tiny, with the worn face of someone who has had a long life in the desert. We had a nice conversation and in the end she gave me a little donation despite my protestations. Such a lovely person who could teach a lot to some of the people I’ve had the misfortune to meet over the years! To celebrate I bought an ice cream!!

Celebrating humanity!

So now I am in Southern Cross, from where things get sparse indeed. I can tell, because the local TV channel shows public service commercials to advise you and your kids to wash your hands. Hmmm. There is also a picture in the pub wall here showing the world record truck pull. Love it!



Pull!!



Next stop Coolgardie, 120 miles / 187km away, and then on to Kalgoorlie for a rest day! Wish me luck!