Friday, October 29

HOLS: Trees and Hills

Nannup is my kind of country town. It is small, pretty and functional. You don't sense that it is handing it's soul over to day-trippers, although you can get some great food. The name means 'meeting place' and back in the 1850's it was where people tended to cross the river to get to the coast. These days it seems more of a mix between an old timber town and a service centre for the cattle industry. Nannup does flutter with drawing the tourist dollar into the area with a tulip festival and a music festival and there are some lovely gardens in town.

A glimpse of the bridge that leads into town
A bit of the main drag
It was lovely weather and in the morning I rode around all the town streets admiring the gardens and then went for a walk in the bush along the river. If I'd had a mountain bike there are plenty of unsealed trails to explore and it was lovely to see a whole family of 6 dashing off before lunch to do just that. I met a gent in his 70's who had spent 2 days riding the trails (see, plenty of time for me to become a mountain bike convert!). At the start of the Jarrah Sidings Trail there is a park bench made of bicycle parts, bike racks shaped like gum leaves and a great workstand for people to use.

A close-up of the park bench
I met a couple of nice lads who were travelling in a little Suzuki and over coffee was offered a good deal of advice on saddle conditioning, gear ratios and what to pack in my panniers. I find I get quite a lot of advise from men. I recognise it as a form of bonding and at times I pick up some valuable tidbits. What I would love to know is if this is how they offer acquaintanceship to each other, or whether it's because I'm a woman (and, therefore, need help), or because I just look slightly vague and a bit overwhelmed (which I'm perfectly willing to own up to)? Either way, I appreciate it for what it is; a bit of well-meaning and friendly company.

My desire to be active faded as the temperature rose. I found myself an old-fashioned cafe and under a rickety pergola, shaded by glorious wisteria I indulged in an ice-cold banana milkshake. That's all I miss when I'm camping, cold drinks and dairy products.

Beautifully cool!
When planning my trip I had decided at the last minute to get a coach between Nannup and Pemberton. Most of the ride would have been a bit scrappy with a quite narrow, hilly road. There just wasn't anything that caught my fancy, so, this was the second instance of my cutting the kms down. For $23 the 'Surly' and I avoided a day (or, knowing me, more likely two) of hard work and sat back in air-conditioned luxury to travel the 80km to Pemberton.

As the coach wasn't due until 7pm, I had time to enjoy a lovely dinner of salt and pepper squid with a fab salad at Nannup Bridge Cafe. The service was so helpful and friendly and the spot very tranquil as I watched the afternoon sun turn to dusk, then darkness, with the lights from the pub down the road beginning to twinkle. Perfect.

On route to Pemberton it became quickly apparent that there was a good bit of controlled burning going on (I had heard it mentioned that morning). The surroundings looked quite festive in the dark with the small, red flames licking through the verges and scrub. But, I can pretty much guarantee that I would have been cursing trying to cycle through the smoke and smell, so, for a while, I was feeling just a little smug about my lazy decision.

I began to realize that the coach seemed to be occupying the wrong side of the road. I was sitting quite close to the front (spoilt for choice as there were only 2 of us on the entire coach) and, at first, assumed it was an optical illusion. After quietly stepping into the aisle I knocked that theory on the head. Then I thought maybe the coach needed to swing wide for corners and that the driver must know what he was doing. After all, he had on a uniform and I'm still of that generation that trusts authority. Then we hit a straight bit for a while and, at about the same time I realised the bushes were closer on the wrong side of the road, I noted the driver's head bobbing gently. Oh, Dear!! I suddenly found myself overtaken by a noisy coughing fit and, sure enough, his head came up and the coach headed back to the correct lane. Two more coughing fits got us safely to Pemberton.

I was put down in the main street and realised that I had rather banked on there being streetlights. I checked my map by my bike light, loaded my panniers by touch and got to the campground at 9pm. The 'Peapod' is so easy to put up, even in the dark, that I was snugged up in my sleeping bag within minutes.

I woke by the side of a little creek with the forest tucked around me. Pemberton has some incredibly beautiful walk trails along the river and a person could spend days and days bushwalking here. But, I was a little restless after the coach trip the day before and had spent time in the area on a number of occasions in the past, so I decided that I was off on the bike to Northcliffe that very day.

The campsite
A cup of coffe before stirring

It was a lovely day's cycling, once I'd dealt with the hill heading out of Pemberton. Some green farmland, but, mainly tall forest with dappled sunlight and the road curling through hills. This was one of the days when I failed to catch the beauty around me on film. What I enjoyed the most, which was being missed by the very few motorists I encountered, was the constant cacophony of birdsong. At one stage I was startled by a crashing in the bush, catching sight of an emu briefly. It lacked a certain amount of grace seeming to barrel through the bush rather than weave past obstacles. It was a definite improvement on the poor emu roadkill I'd seen the night before, it's feathery bottom stuck up in the air as a last obscene gesture to motorized transport.

Dappled sunlight

The ride opened out onto farmland and I began to realize exactly how hot it was. I do not normally burn easily and had taken the added precaution of applying SPF30, but, within a short time I was looking pinkish and could feel a real bite to the sun as it dried the salt on my skin. This was much hotter than I had hoped for this month and I suddenly started yearning to be down on the south coast (an area I've yet to explore). As I rode into Northcliffe (which is little more than a hamlet) I noticed the Visitor's Centre was a TransWA agent. It was another 100km to Walpole and my first touch of sea breeze. So, rather sheepishly, and completely on impulse, I made the final chop to my cycling days and booked a coach for the next day.

I stopped for a late lunch and then headed on down a little lane back out of town to a campsite covered in roo poo (luckily it's like huge rabbit droppings so you can just kick it aside) and swarming with flying ants. I was trying to put up the tent quickly (I don't mind ants, but, it's a bit creepy when they've got wings), but, had no chance due to a certain petty criminal constantly rifing my bags for groceries. He destroyed a capsicum and got away with more salted peanuts than were good for him. I kept pushing him aside and in the end resorted to running at him flapping my arms wildly. All he did was ran back at me flapping his wings. When I finally got into the tent away from him and the ants I heard him plucking the tent ropes testing if they were edible. I went to sleep and dreamt of eating roasted magpie in a red wine sauce.

Caught backing out of my grocery bag.
One (err, two?) of half a dozen roo poo culprits relaxing at dusk.


slow rpm said...

Regarding blokes and free advice about stuff.Yeah, we do give free advice to each other as well;it's a blokey way of breaking the ice and avoiding the discussion of 'feelings'. Speaking of 'stuff' I would love to see another photo of that super cool park bench made of bike parts.

I've enjoyed reading of your travels around the south of WA.You're a great ambassador of all things 'west'.


Ian,Burnie via Melbourne

BB said...

Ahh, I've often pondered about the bloke communication thing! Thanks for clearing it up for me Ian :) I always took it to be friendly and inclusive, but, didn't know if it was the usual. Nice to know!

BB said...

P.S. Sorry Ian I only took a close-up of the park bench! One of my many photographic shortcomings on this trip.

Traci said...

I think that park bench is great also - really neat looking! I think I might have had more than a coughing fit if I'd noticed the driver dozing off behind the wheel!! Yikes, glad to made it to your destination in one piece!

Cute kangaroo! Wish we had such cute animals lounging around at campsites - unfortunately, it seems that the animals here consist more of those you don't want to come face to face with such as bears! I had a good chuckle about your statement of dreaming about roasted magpie in a red wine sauce :)

ian... said...

Add another bod to the bench fan club.

The campsite at Pemberton looks idyllic, if not lacking a bit in Magpies. The Roo on the otherhand looks to be the complete opposite of the corvid, very cool :>)

BB said...

@Ian: A lack of magpies is a thing to be celebrated. If the little so-and-sos aren't stealing from you they're swooping down and attacking you from above (this happened 5 times this trip and is the main reason I kept my helmet on). I much prefer good, old crows. They just steal :)