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Gordon Inlet: when the standard level of Moderate Effort is exceeded

29 March 2010 | 57 km | Heading west total: 14,814 km

Another cool morning augured well for a clear day.

I can report that no clouds were spotted today. The wind has swung around to the south east.

All is good with the world.

The grader which had started the job on the Point Ann Road had finished the job yesterday: the overtime rates for Sunday work must have proved irresistible but maybe they are just preparing the roads for the Easter onslaught of visitors. Easter marks the end of summer in southern climes and the outdoorsie types fit in one last camping expedition prior to the cooler and wetter winter.

Once back on the road to, well, I’m not actually too sure where the road goes. The road I start on loops back to the highway 50kms away, servicing the tenuous farms where the main crop seems to be sand.

I decide on a direct route to Bremer Bay, a town of about 240 people, which involves 9km on one unsealed road, 9km on a 4WD track, 2km on another unsealed road and then 9km into Bremer Bay.

I turn off to Quaalup and eat some lunch on a hill, (just in case you were wondering, it’s been a while since Hopetoun, there’s cheese, fruit cake and dates left in the lunch sack, and I find a solitary slice of bread.)

As I was finishing some locals stopped for a chat. Charlie’s been in the area since 1930, a farmer but now on 50 acres since he’s getting on a bit. West Mount Barren still looks the same. He went swimming in the 1930s but it was cold and he hasn’t been back in since. Says he was 10 when he arrived which would put him at 90 but I don’t think he looks a day over 89.

His wife Doris is similarly cheery. They could do a bit of work on the road. Somehow I get the impression that it’s an old joke, and ain’t likely to last long even if they get round to it.

They tell me to drop in when I go past, don’t take any notice of the No Evangelists sign, they once had a problem with some Seventh Day Adventists, maybe in the 50s or 60s I think. That would be desperation on the part of the evangelists, Quaalup really is the back of beyond.

For some reason I say I won’t disturb them and they don’t look too disappointed, we have a 20 minute talk anyway. Gotta get to Bremer Bay.

Of course.

Actually I don’t want to get all the way. I’d prefer arriving in the morning checking out the camping ground for washing and recharging some batteries during the day.

When I get to the final intersection there’s a sign pointing the other way to Gordon Inlet, 8km. That’s achievable and the road looks good. It is for 8km but I decide to continue on to an alleged camping area to find a picnic table.

Suddenly deep sand, no riding possible.

This is as bad a section of 4WD track as I’ve been on since, well, the Lambert Centre of Australia sandtrap. Eventually I drop the bike and walk ahead another 1km: all sand badly hacked by the local 4WDs. No toilet, no table.

The other option is to camp on the shore of the inlet. It’s a great view across the water towards West Mount Barren and on the other side of the water, about 800m away, are dozens of swans. This side of the inlet there’s a few hundred seabirds coming in to roost.

The sun is setting over the water. I can bypass most of the sand tomorrow by riding on the packed sand along the shore.

Today was just 1km too far.