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Old 03-06-2009, 12:49 AM   #1
Eaglebeak OP
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Redundancy Ride

After 30+ years with a large mining company (Rio Tinto) I was made redundant in mid January.
I've spent the last 6 weeks tailoring my resume for the different jobs I've applied for. Meanwhile, everytime I open the paper, I read of another company that has laid off workers.

Finally last week I accepted a job with Australia Post but I don't start training until the 11th.
What to do ?

Mrs Beak suggested I get away for a while as it may be some time before I get another chance.
I decided to head to the far south coast of WA, to visit in particular, a couple of towns I hadn't seen in about 13 years.

I took the BMW 1150R but I planned on doing some dirt.
For locals, the rough plan was-out through the wheatbelt roughly south east to Hopetoun on the south coast, then make my way west to Albany and north back to Perth.


After dropping the 8 y.o at school I finally got away on Tuesday about 0930 hrs and immediately found it to be colder than I was expecting.

Nothing much to report on the way to Narrogin. Nice country but I was running late, so no pics.
From Narrogin I took a minor road east, Yilliminning Rd, looking for Albert Facey's old home. (author of "A Fortunate Life").

Up and down a few dirt roads to no avail. The current owners must have knocked it over.



Eventually I wandered over to Toolibin Lake, after first passing this sad sight.





Toolibin Lake



I finally pulled up at a great little coffee shop in Lake Grace. I sat and chilled looking across the street.



I love little wheat belt towns. Too often, riders from Perth will go directly south to the tourist/surfing hot spots of Yallingup, Margaret River, etc. I find them overcrowded and full of upmarket stockbrokers and lawyers visiting their vineyards in their shiny SUV's
I prefer to spend my money in the little "struggle towns" of the wheatbelt. Unfortunately they are being slowly depopulated, family farms giving way to bigger, (not necessarily better) Corporate properties.

Stop in an inland country town and you'll find the coffee being served by a real local, not a backpacker.

Anyway, off my hobby horse, a pic of the restored rail siding in Lake Grace



Another 50 km to Newdegate and then I turned off down the old Ravensthorpe Rd.



Some nice country and the road turned out to be pretty good. For those that know, very similar to the Hyden-Norseman Rd many of us take on our way to the WA/SA border run.






I'd given Mrs Beak a rough itinerary and promised to send SMS when I had reception, so that she had a rough idea of where I was.
Initially I'd planned to camp somewhere along here, but I also realised I'd set myself a lot to do this trip and needed to make kms if possible. The shadows were lengthening but I since the road was so good I pressed on down to the tar where I turned east for the 30-40 kms to Ravensthorpe.

It was cold so I took a donga for $15 at the local campground.



Thermals under board shorts and my favourite BASE assoc T-Shirt, not a good look, but it does show my new bag, bought from fellow Advrider "TheCanoeGuy".
Good one Dave ! Unfortunately the night didn't get as cold as the bag was made for, luckily I could open the foot end zip and cool down.



For those not aware, another big company BHP/Billiton had recently opend a mine nearby, (withihn the last 2 years. The State Government had poured about $15 million into improving infrastructure to cope with the influx of workers. New power stations and sewage, for instance. Not only in Ravensthorpe, but also my next target, the idyllic coastal hamlet of Hopetoun. Ravensthorpe had gone from about 300 people to over 1,000 and Hopetoun, from 300 to over 2,000.
New businesses were encouraged to set up. New homes were built, new minesite employees took out mortgages on new houses, new estates were set up.
Boom, boom.

Then, two weeks ago, BHP/Billiton shut the mine and sacked all the workers !
The local IGA supermarket owner in Ravensthorpe was reported to be out of pocket over $1,000,000 after partially building a much bigger shop/warehouse.

I'd come partly to see the resultant mess and partly for nostalgia.
(In 1996, I'd paddled along the coast from Bremer Bay, east to Hopetoun, ~100kms)
I left early to ride down to Hopetoun where I took these
few pictures of closed businesses and empty homes in Hopetoun.









Behind this next shot were about 50 completed smaller homes, they looked like the permanent ones you'd find in a park home.



The local Real estate office had plenty for sale, all massively reduced.
Heartache all round.

Enough of that, I was hungry !



Some shots of the town and harbour. It's not really obvious because I'm a lousy photgrapher, but this harbour is surrounded by reef, it's bloody scary trying to get in by kayak when you are on the outside as it's hard to find the passage.
But early last century, sailing ships came into port here to load wheat and if my memory serves me well, some Copper or Nickel form an early minesite.





This shot is looking west towards the Fitzgerald River National Park. The entire coast between Hopetoun and west to Bremer Bay is the National park, hence my decision to paddle it back in 1996.
Three sets of hills, West, Mid and East Mt Barren, very imaginative !

Years ago there was an old telegraph line through the park and my old riding mate John and I had made two diferent attempts to get through on road bikes, (BM K100 and BM Pari Dakar replica 80) but high water in the first creek stopped us.
Now the track is off limits, for a number of reasons but a big one is the dreaded "die back", a fungus that attacks the trees and is most obvious from the leaves dieing from the crown downwards.

There is a fairly good road running north east through the eastern edge of the park and I intended to take that.




More to come, I just need to get a coffee. This teaser


Eaglebeak screwed with this post 03-06-2009 at 03:41 AM
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Old 03-06-2009, 01:09 AM   #2
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Looking forward to the next installment Andrew. Top work as usual.

A real shit about the job - I thought something was up from a casual mention a while back. Good to see something has happened for you.
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Old 03-06-2009, 01:30 AM   #3
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Old 03-06-2009, 01:43 AM   #4
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Looking good mate.

Sucks about your job, but that's why we ride motorcycles.
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Old 03-06-2009, 02:04 AM   #5
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About time Andrew.

Great narrative, and historical context.
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Old 03-06-2009, 02:38 AM   #6
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Good stuff Mr Beak

Hopetoun's changed a bit since I was last there.
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Old 03-06-2009, 02:48 AM   #7
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Old 03-06-2009, 03:32 AM   #8
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Good to see the mandatory bakery stop

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Old 03-06-2009, 03:38 AM   #9
Eaglebeak OP
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Thanks for the replies.

Yeah, redundancy can suck, but I was okay, I was expecting it really and the payout was enough to clear my mortgage and all other debts with some left over.
There may be a silver lining in this particular cloud. The hours with Oz Post give me a good work life balance, even though the pay is less, I finish in time to pick up the little one from school, another saving on after school care.

Anyway, the trip.

I left Hopetoun to ride up and around East Mt Barren.



Looking back towards Hopetoun with the West river and Culham inlet on the left.



These next few are just coastal shots within the park.











I'm not sure we've seen enough of this bike yet.



...and then I dropped down intop Hamersley Inlet.





Then . . .I dropped the bike. !
One of those nothing drops. I was moving at walking pace and turned the front wheel in sand, manoeuvreing to ride back up the slope.
I know everyone likes a shot of the bike having a "nana nap" but I hate looking at fuel running out the oveflow line, plus I was on my own, I wanted it up immediately.
Luckily, BM's rest on their pots and the panniers, an easy lift and she was back upright.

That said, 10 minutes later I thought I must have been nervously sweating or it was hottter than I thought, then I realised I'd knocked the heated grips on, Doh !

From the inlet the road leads north for about 40-50 kms through the park to the main highway between Ravensthorpe and Jerramungup.
You can see my route in the distance in this shot.



The next couple are probably a bit repetitive but I like 'em. You can see the Barrens in the distance.







Finally back on the tar. My apologies to residents of Jerramungup, but I did find this section a bit boring, maybe because I was looking forward to seeing Bremer Bay, the start point for our trip so long ago.



I had fond memories of this trip. I'd planned to do it on my own in 1994 (did I say '96 before? Old age)
Anyway, about that time I met some guys from SASR through two friends that ran a Kayak shop. The boys had just got into kayaking and wanted to come along.
I planned and led the trip and one of the paddlers had just got married. He was on his honeymoon and his wife and friends did the car shuffle for us to Hopetoun. One other paddler was an ex bike shop owner and army reserve member from Sydney, Tony Hughes, a top bloke and my mate Dusty's best man at his wedding. We borrowed a boat for Tony and had a ball.

So it was with disappointment that I arrived in Bremer Bay. While the scenery is magnificent, there was just something about the town that felt "off" to me. Maybe it was the outlook, or rather the lack of it. The town had no ocean frontage that I saw. It was hidden by trees.
It just felt like what it was, a beach shack community that had grown without a lot of thought of inititive from the locals.

I went up to a local high point and took these shots of the river and bar and then the pictures scroll to the right around the large bay we had to paddle before exiting between Pt Hood and the Doubtful Islands heading east to Hopetoun.









I couldn't get out of there quick enough. I feel slightly ashamed, maybe I didn't give it time, or give the locals a fair shake.
Oh well, I made tracks for a spot to camp, after all, I had my camping gear.
I'd been told about a spot called Betty's beach, unfortunately I had my ear plugs in and didn't pay to much attention to the directions.

I missed the turnoff and before you know it i was nearly in Albany.

I don't know what it is, but I seem to have an aversion to tenting in big towns. I get to the campsites and they are full of grey ghosts with their vans, I don't want to put my tent up and deal with all the noise and (sometimes) well meaning questions.
If I'm going to tent or swag I prefer to do it in the bush, where I can step outside my tent to piss if need be without running into old Mabel or Ted.

It was getting late and I was running out of options I did what I swore I wouldn't do this trip, I got a Motel room.

Breakfast at a top little spot where I could keep an eye on my bike.





Ruined only by the obnoxious woman who arrived in her Mercedes and completely dominated her two friends, ordering their breakfasts for them and treating the waitress like a serving wench.
Without wanting to I heard all about her two sons making a fortune in the wheat trade, one apparently becoming second in charge.
And of her trips to Esperance from Kalgoorlie as a young girl.
"All of us in Daddy's big Buick, four girls plus the nanny (?) and Mum and Dad in the front seat"

Unbelieveable, an honest to goodness bloody Dinosaur ! I must be out of touch, I thought we'd knocked most of this pretentious sh*t out of people in Australia ?
She wouldn't have been more than 5 years older than me.

Enough of my rant.
Albany, a bloody beautiful town, probably the only WA town that wouldn't look out of place in Tasmania, with all it's hillside homes . .and the views !

I went up Mt Clarence to see the memorial to the Light Horse, supposedly the guys last landfall before the horrors of Gallipolli and the Western Front.

My photo's are crap but it's not a bad last look I'd say.
















Not a bad spot for a dawn service.

House view.



I planned to catch up with some old friends that live out on the Lower Denmark Rd. I'd first met them in '82 on the Nullarbor. they were riding a BM 60S I think it was, with a sidecar and a three legged kelpie in the chair !
On their way to Perth, I was on my way home from a trip to Melbourne on my 75/6.

Unfortunately, my plan to ring at the last minute found Jenny out and Mark leaving for work, (work, bugger, I'd forgotten that since my redundancy).
Not to worry, I took the Lower rd anyway and these pics are from that ride towards Denmark.







Shelley Beach I think.



A fix her upper ?





If anyones interested ?



These next five are of Lowlands Beach, my favourite, I keep coming back to this beach every few years. I've seen whales, mother and calf floating just offshore twice, but not this time.









Most of the road into Lowlands s sealed now, this is part of it.
Looking left . . .



. . . and looking to the right !



As usual, I'd given myself too little time, I had to get going.
Straight through the lovely town of Denmark to the famous Greens Pool.






and finally off the tar again onto the Broke Inlet Rd, a place I used to camp and paddle years ago. It hasn't changed.



The inlet itself. Looking towards the narrow entrance at the mouth.





and the shacks. I'm not sure what or why or even who as I think they lie inside the borders of the Shannon National Park.



There must be about 20 shacks and like the first time I ever came, there was no one about. It has an strange vibe.



Rather than ride back to the highway, I'd planned to take a short cut, well, actually it doesn't save any distance or time, it's just more interesting.
But these two signs had me thinking.





Chesapeake Rd. I knew the far end was closed to traffic but I only planned to go about 30 km before turning up the Deeside Coastal Rd, another 30 km to the Hwy.
I decided to give it a go. I had plenty of food, water and fuel. If it got bad I could turn around.

As it turned out, it was fine. I sat on about 40-50 kph as it had a few potholes that were hard to see in the shadows. Some loose stuff too, but overall, good.







From here it was a fast ride up the tar to Donnybrook where I, (again !) took a Motel room.

I had planned to visit another old mate near Yarloop. I hadn't seen Steve or Michelle in years. We'd spoken on and off and I found out he's taken up body building, he was always a big, confident lad, I had visions of his new size, especially after he said he recently won the Southern Hemisphere area title for his age. (He's over 40)

Again, me and my big plans. I'd drop in unannounced wouldn't I ?That's how we always did it in the old days.
NOT HOME, bugger.

That'll have to wait for another trip.

I blasted home to Perth by mid morning, tired, happy and looking forward (well, sort of, maybe) to getting back into the workforce.

Remember. always take the backroads !





Andrew Linton.

Eaglebeak screwed with this post 03-08-2009 at 11:28 PM
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Old 03-06-2009, 04:46 AM   #10
Mike.C
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Thanks - great coastline.
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Old 03-06-2009, 04:49 AM   #11
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Beautiful therapeutic ride to keep your mind off the workless situation.. The 2 wheeled therapist surely lifted your spirits. Thanks for the report and pics, and my you have better days ahead
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Old 03-06-2009, 05:12 AM   #12
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great report and great pictures. Thanks for sharing with us. Love learning about other countries thru ride reports.
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Old 03-06-2009, 02:58 PM   #13
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- Showing your age Andrew - Motel Rooms - unheard of.

Great memories I have of the Denmark area and as per usual a great report.
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Old 03-06-2009, 10:08 PM   #14
Eaglebeak OP
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Thanks Mark.

For those that may be interested.

Total distance, ~1750 kms of which ~240 kms were dirt.

3.5 days

Average consumption from the big twin 19.3 k/l ( I sat on 100-110 on the tar) Best on this trip was 20.1 and worst was 18.3 k/l.
(Worst I've ever had was 15.5 k/l at much higher speeds into slight headwind.)

Andrew.
Note to self - must find a way to spell check before posting trip reports.
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:07 AM   #15
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enjoyed that, thanks!
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