Wednesday, November 24

HOLS: Doing Denmark

I spent an extra day at Parry Beach. After mooching around in the bottom of my panniers I found tuna, rice, green beans, coffee, sugar and oats and realised I wasn't going to starve. Not that I would have anyway, having already received an invite for dinner that night. Off to the caretaker with another $2 in my grubby paw and then down to the beach for a spot of fishing. Fish caught=0 (unless you count an undersized whiting), lures lost=1. All in all, a not uncommon result for yours truly.

Parry Beach Camp

I met a fellow who had built his own bicycle wheels and who gave me an in depth description of balancing them. It was fascinating and, yet again, it crossed my mind that I really should get a little more hands on with the Surly. An hour later, his wife came in search of him. She'd known where to look as soon as she'd seen my bicycle. Turning to go with a fond, if exasperated smile, she commented that she was truly grateful he'd never 'found' God or she would have had to leave him!

In the afternoon, I scouted about for firewood for a communal campfire that night. I have some rather set rules about gathering firewood. I only pick deadwood up off the ground and don't get it all from the one area, so as nature can take it's course. I never break 'dead' branches from shrubs or trees, as often they can look on their last legs only to break into new growth after bushfires or a rainy season. If I wasn't so ignorant I could probably be more discerning, but, as it is I'd rather err on the side of caution. I was very grateful for a tip I'd read ages ago from Justine of 'Mid-Life Cycling' about propping your bike up on it's pedal. I don't have a stand on my Surly and it saved putting the bike on the gravel.

You're never too old to learn.

The late afternoon entertainment was provided by a devout Christian couple having all sorts of trouble putting up the annexe on their caravan for the first time. Not a single cross word was uttered during the entire exhausting exercise which I found most impressive (I almost felt like quietly cursing in sympathy). They were lovely folk and gave me some very sound advice about where to camp when I reached Denmark, which stupidly I didn't follow on this occasion, but, certainly will if I find myself in that part of the world again. I should know by now to go with local advice.

Although determined to make an early start, I was up at 6.30am, I didn't actually set off until 11.30am. So many people stopped by for a chat that breaking camp proved difficult, having to be fitted in 5 minutes here and there, between visitors: The long-term travellers with the snazzy solar-panel setup, the couple (she in a wheelchair) with the dogs who took my finished 'Dick Francis', the Christians, the couple from the Porongurups with tales of cycling the same route in March (don't, the flies draw blood if you stop cycling), the foursome from Meekatharra with the tall tales of bush bike-mechanics, the local fishermen (I so wanted a go on their quad-bikes), the quiet lady who admitted that after 3 years of continuous travelling she had only just begun to sleep well at night, and, of course, the lovely caretaker couple who gave me some very disheartening news about a rather large hill on my day's route and the brilliant news that Denmark had an award winning bakery (that'll get me over any hill).

Back on the highway and about 5kms later I happened across 'The Toffee Factory' where I enjoyed a fantastic icecream that had fresh fruit (I picked cherry) blended into it as you waited, along with little chunks of praline and chocolate. Heaven! Along with a chilled pear cider and some chili-chocolate toffee for my handlebar bag I was well-fuelled for the morning. Near the turn-off for Green's Pool I hit the hill I had been told about. I ended up resorting to Shank's Pony, although as I climbed the view compensated for the effort.

The view ascending the Green's Pool hill.

At the top, dripping with the effort and shimmering heat, I borrowed a  roadside seller's shack for a shady rest and a munch on some toffee. What goes up, (if there is any justice in the world) must come down, and I had a fabulous descent for some kms after that which required very little effort and left me grinning like a beserker.

A stolen rest spot in the shade.

The usual routine of hills set in until 8kms outside of Denmark where my eye caught movement on the gravel edge of the road. A 5 foot dugite, head weaving in the air, was obviously as horrified as I by the unexpected encounter. I know dugites are as poisonous as tigersnakes, but, somehow they don't look quite as menacing. Even so, I shot to the top of that hill in record time without even changing gears and, only when I was half way up the next incline, did I stop to listen to the 'thumpity-thumpity' of my pounding chest and consider the situation from the snake's point of view. I couldn't tell you much about the scenery as you enter Denmark, as for the rest of the ride my eyes were fixed on the gravel verge, sussing out every little twig I came across.

It was wonderful to arrive in a town where I could get a good coffee and then, extremely quickly afterwards, find a decent bakery. The first of a series of purchases (like I need to say that) was a seafood mornay pie crammed with plump prawns, tender fish and a light, fluffy cheese sauce. Yum! I also bumped into the 'Meekatharra Foursome' and was ordered to pull up a pew.

Denmark itself is rather picturesque, set on the banks of the Denmark River, it has the good bones of country town born of timber (initially) and the still present farming, yet wears it's robes of the eco-dollar well. There are more alternative healers than GP's, the chemist stocks Birkenstocks rather than Hush Puppies, you can purchase off-grid energy systems, crystals, organic produce and hemp clothing, books on global warming and stay at 'organic accomodation' (whatever that might be). However, it doesn't have the split personality of some towns when general store meets boutique, instead you are left with the impression of a happy community for all.

Denmark still has farming town bones.

The town is set on the river.

The only experience that jarred with me whilst in Denmark was the caravan park. Rivermouth Caravan Park has the most idyllic setting on the corner of the river mouth (obviously) and the inlet, you couldn't wish for better. However, it is clearly becoming more and more geared to tourist cabins and long-term leasing. After so many tranquil, shaded camping spots I really objected to paying $25 per night to camp out in the sun, close to a noisy motorhome, on a patch of lawn covered with duck poo. I felt like a gypsy on the village green with the locals peering out at me. The ablutions weren't as clean as the little block at Parry Beach (the effort had been made, but, the ever present bird poo was winning), and although there was a fine camp kitchen the rubbish bin (emptied daily I'm sure) had an aroma that sent me scuttling back to my little meth stove.

Still nothing could detract from the scenery and I had a lovely time cycling around the inlet and enjoying some of the tracks in the area.

Another old rail track that's now for horses, bikes and walkers.

So, today I was off to Cosy Corner, back to a freebie, basic site under peppermint trees by the sea and my last night's solo camping of the trip. I turned off onto the Lower Denmark Road and suddenly encountered a large number of suicidal beetles. They had obviously been brain-washed from birth to believe that their sole aim in life was to end their days gloriously smashing into the spectacles of a bicycling great-aunt. The day was heating up and I had to stop and remind myself that holidays were not meant to be endured and that trying to cycle in the middle of the day, as the road shimmered and breathing felt as though I was inhaling kiln fumes, was not the definition of fun.

After stopping for a milkshake and a chat with a couple of gals cycling the same route in the opposite direction (which meant they had a tailwind for days, clever things), I persevered a little until I reached Bornholm which, other than the odd farm in the distance, seems to consist of a voluntary fire brigade and a weatherboard hall with 4 beautiful tennis courts behind it smack bang in the middle of nowhere - only in Australia! I snuck round to the back of the hall, lay on the blissfully cool verandah, made myself a coffee, smoked a cigar and read my book until the sun had lowered a little. Whilst I lack any athletic ability whatsoever, I do possess the uncanny knack of being able to make myself comfortable pretty much anywhere.

Tennis in the middle of nowhere anyone?
Coming up to the Cosy Corner turn-off.
The lone fisherman on another deserted beach.

The evening had cooled to a pleasant temperature and after putting up camp I spent my time chatting to a couple from the Barossa Valley, SA who were touring in a fabulous, old bus. A walk along the beach and a chat with a lone fisherman confirmed nothing was biting, so I cooked myself a risotto, smoked my last cigar and settled into my sleeping bag for the night, updating my journal to the sound of the ocean in the company of a dram (or two) of Laphroaig. Not a bad way to spend my last night alone.

Cosy at Cosy Corner.
Sunset, my last solo night.


Traci said...

Wow, more gorgeous scenery - I don't even know where to start commenting! I will say right off however, that being very familiar with Shank's Pony, I also would probably make it up a hill very quickly (and seemingly effortlessly) if I encountered a poisonous snake!! No matter how often I may hear that snakes (or other creatures who may kill me) are just as scared of humans, it still doesn't make me feel any better or like them any more :) I feel the same about spiders and would almost rather see a snake than a huge spider - gives me the creeps just thinking about it.

My first thought with your post was "how in the world did she make it to Denmark on her bike trip - I thought she said she didn't go that far!" Haha - then I realized that you meant Denmark, Australia. Sounds as if you met many very interesting people along the way, as well as enjoyed beautiful settings! I love the fact that there was a tennis court in the middle of nowhere - that's hilarious! And that last photo of the sunset is amazing!!!

BB said...

@Traci - I don't mind snakes or spiders if they're harmless. I could happily cuddle a grass snake and I'll move a huntsman (spider) out of harms way. But, as soon as I know they're venomous I'm a complete wimp!!

When I was little I watched an episode of Skippy when a tourist was bitten by a snake and Skippy had to get help before he died. I think I have an irrational fear of my life being dependent on the intelligence of a tame kangaroo!! :)

ian... said...

Ha, I had to do a double take on the title of the post also & resorted to the googley-map!

Denmark looks really nice & I see it's on the edge of a lagoon too, although the river looks really nice too. The canoe in the pic looks like a nice way to relax - feet up of course with book, dram of Islay single malt & cigar ;>D

Wend & I agree - apart from the dreaded Dugite(!), it looks like paradise! Thanks for sharing your trip :>)

BB said...

@Ian - you're welcome! One more post when I've got a minute and I'll round it out at the half dozen posts. It's taken me longer to scribble about the trip than do it! I must say you guys have got some staying power sticking with the yarn.

As for paradise, I've come to the conclusion that it pretty much is and have a renewed feeling of being lucky for having easy access to an area that almost begs to be cycled.