This blog this story began decades ago. Aged 9 my far-sighted parents took me to a HUGE warehouse full of bicycles.
“Son” they said “choose wisely for this is the last bicycle we shall ever buy you”
I was small for my age and I recall looking across the vast expanse of the warehouse full of various types of bicycles trying to think how to choose “wisely”. I mean any bike I could imagine being useful at say 15 was utterly impossible to even ride at small 9.
So I chose a Malvern Star Chopper, like the one in the photo. Great bike. 3 speed. Buuut it did not take me too long before I kinda grew out of it.
The years ticked by and I rose through adolescence without a bike. Or at least a suitable bike.
But I always wanted one.
Finally, 17-ish, foolishly brave, newly graduated from high school I approached my parents again.
“I wanna bike” I said. I was working. I had my own money. I was increasingly independent. Or so I thought.
“A bike! Wot? Are you mad” or words to that effect.
We lived in the back hills east of Perth, Western Australia in the tiny community of Mount Helena. There were a large number of kilometres from our house to any other place even remotely of interest. My parents were aghast at the idea of sport and fitness at the best of times and simply couldn’t grasp the concept of using a bike to ride them kilometres over them hills.
Which to me was the whole point.
My independence duly quashed I bought, dutifully, a car. A 1967 2 door coupe sky blue Toyota Corolla 1.1 ltr. A zillion miles to the gallon and so contra to the prevailing passion of Big Sixes and V8s that it had a kinda kool about it.
Still, it was a car. Not a bike. My dream got put off for a bit longer.
University came upon me. Student life student allowance. Even a 1967 1.1 litre Toyota Corolla with a zillion miles to the gallon is expensive on a student’s allowance.
Being a student I am independent.
I sell the car and buy a bike. Finally.
A 12 speed drop-handlebar steel monstrosity. A no-name brand from a slickly-marketed bulk-sales shop. It iss brilliant, and I am free.
The monstrosity quickly evolved to a Campagnola racing bike. Phenomenal machine. I rode the same kilometres on my bikes as most people did in their cars. Loved it.
I had an excellent Japanese touring bike with a full set of panniers from Wilderness Equipment, a local high-end hiking/camping equipment manufacturer (http://wildernessequipment.com.au/). I criss-crossed the South West, toured the Barossa Valley in South Australia, and rode around Tasmania.
But I never rode the Nullarbor. The long kinda straight bit which joins Western Australia to the Rest of Australia.
I crossed it. A dozen times. By plane, train, car, bus, truck. But not by bike.
Rumbling by whatever means across the Nullarbor I’d pass the odd cyclist and think “I godda do that one day” and the dream was set.
Then, aged 26, I left Australia for a 6 month contract in Papua New Guinea. And never went back. At least to live.
26 years later and half way into my tenth season above the Arctic Circle somewhere in the Scandinavian/Nordic countries I got the not-altogether-surprising but still very unsettling news that my father has Alzheimer’s.
Suddenly I had a pressing and irresistible reason to return to Perth, Western Australia. To get a good solid dose of quality time with my father before it is simply too late.
Then the proverbial light bulb goes off …
The Nullarbor remains still.
I am fit. Still. And healthy. Still. And still mad about bikes. I still love to travel and camp and hike and simply enjoy the outdoors.
I’ve missed the deserts, though the high Arctic Wildernesses of Scandinavia are an excellent alternative.
I looked at what else I could/should be doing. And realised such pedestrian pursuits such as career income relationship money stable secure settlement can simply wait for a while.
But the Nullarbor is not the only item on my Bucket List. The other is to do the Tanami.
Now, following the ever expanding Australian mining booms and industry and the touring passion of the Australian folk, the Tanami is a challenge but not a Beast.
I looked at the map. Checked up on the internet. Realised with a bit of planning and bit of madness I can achieve both Dreams in one mega blast during an “epic trip” as Annie of GoCamping Australia described it following one of my many enquiries about many things to many people/organisations.
And so, decades after my passion for cycling manifest itself deep in me, decades even after I left Australia, an opportunity has presented itself and I am going to go for it.
And thus, this blog is born.
I hope you will travel with me during the latter stages of planning, the adventure of travelling to Australia, the final preparations in Australia (with my Dad), and eventually the trip itself.
8 April 2015