We are on the road as the sun comes up over the horizon. Rob strides off, as is his wont leaving Will, Jenny and I well behind. Will and I stop to take sunrise photos juxtaposing our bike against the silhouette of a windmill. “A fast disappearing Australian icon” Will points out. True, most of the old style windmills are being replaced by modern solar-powered pumps. The icon is indeed disappearing.
After 12 km along the Baird Bay road the Calca-Bluff Road turns off towards the B100. Makes sense to take this road, shaving 3 km should we take the Calca Road. However, the Calca-Bluff Road means we’d miss Murphys Haystacks. Strange rock formations, shaped by wind and rain over millennium. It’s one of the ‘sights’ in the area. They lie a couple of kilometres before the junction of the Calca Road and the B100
Will, Jenny and Rob await me at the Calca-Bluff Road junction. I have been taking photos and am lagging. There has been no formal discussion about skipping Murphys Haystacks. We are not going there because of the anticipated southerly that’s meant to blow in later in the day. A strong headwind in other words. Rob has been very vocal to “ … want to get down the road before that wind blows up”. Will and Jenny seem to go along for the ride. That leaves me. Stay with the group, caught up in Rob’s imperative. Rob struggles against headwinds. Or go solo, see the Haystacks and deal with the wind when it arrives.
I go for the haystacks. The three ride off along Calca-Bluff Road and I prepare to continue north along Baird Bay Road. Upon checking my Garmin Montana 650T GPS I realise a shorter route has me first ride along Calca-Bluff Road before turning north after some seven kilometres.
It doesn’t take long to catch up with Will and Jenny who are surprised to see me and we chat away. Will suddenly pulls over for a toilet stop and a moment later Jenny tells me “That bush is mine” with a cheeky smile and so I continue. Not long after I catch up with Rob who asks “Ha, what got you to change your mine”.
“What makes you think I’ve changed my mind?” I respond before addressing the curious befuddled look in his eyes “It’s quicker to take a left a couple of kilometres further up”, I explain. With the others … occupied … I continue down the hill, taking the left I’d identified and continued to Murphys Haystacks.
Murphys Haystacks are quite spectacular. Inselbergs: islands of rock. The name’s Germanic in origin. Lovely setting, lovely view, interesting formation. Given that it’s perhaps added three kilometres to my trip, hardly worth missing to avoid 15 to 20 minutes extra of headwind.
Graham and Pat, Gronads from Perth are camped there. We chat. The chat extends to coffee, chocolate coated biscuits, photographs which Graham patiently worked out how to email them to me via his smart phone. And a phone call to my dad! Graham offered me his phone – “it’s a free call” – so I could call my dad. Which I did. Which was mega-wonderful.
Murphys Haystacks was indeed a winner for me.
After Murphys Haystacks I made my way down the B100, often on a gravel road which parallels the asphalt. Though slower riding, the absence of traffic was worth it and the trees, being closer, provided better windbreak for the increasing but still not (yet) strong headwind.
Port Kenny comes and goes. I follow a small track right along the beach, the wind strong. Not much for Port Kenny, especially with Venus Bay just down the road.
The six kilometres into Venus Bay is straight into that much vaunted headwind. By now it is quite a headwind. Long and slow. I’m trying to figure out what I should do. Should I stay at Venus Bay? Should I not? Am getting a little tired of the whole caravan park thing. They don’t ‘do’ small tents well. Though, admittedly, having a shower is a special reward and can compensate for dust and poor tent sites.
The caravan park receptionist is waiting for me: “You must be-e-e … Max! Right? Betcha wonder how I knew that!” I had seen where the others were camped since the road parallels the caravan park before encountering the entrance so I knew why. We share a laugh all the same.
I change tack, and suggest I want to continue a bit further and ask about having a shower and getting some water. Not a problem, says the receptionist, though I get the idea she wants me to buy the shower and bottled water, rather than filling from the rainwater tanks.
I go check out the others.
The tent site in the caravan park does not look attractive. It is close to the inlet and the view’s great. It is also close to the toilets, amenities and camp kitchen, on sloping ground with a stony, dusty base. It’s also exposed to that wind and I can see both tents flapping. Will explains that the large 4WD is not parked insensitively, but is in fact acting as a wind break.
I’m getting tired of these kinds of camp sites. I’m far more inclined to wild camp it at the isolated, superbly well sheltered and relatively dust-free site I’d found about three kilometres back up the road.
But first a shower. “Go for it” say Will, “it’s already paid for”. So too is the rain water. I hadn’t thought of that. A ‘plot’ in a caravan park normally covers up to two. A single person or a couple pay exactly the same. I ask the key from Rob.
After my show I return the key to Rob, and explain that I will indeed wild camp it.
Rob quips “That’ll be five bucks for the shower then”, laughing at his own joke. The others join in.
“No worries Rob. Bend over and I’ll give you five bucks.” For which I get a scowl.
Tomorrow they warn of even worse headwinds than today. “20 knots” Rob said. They are staying put to wait out the wind. It’s a tried and trust method of dealing with headwinds. Wait them out.
Fuck it! I am going to ride the headwind. I want to ride the headwind. I want to see just how bad it really is. I want to feel myself persevere against it. I want the challenge, the effort.
Wild camping 3.5 km from Venus Bay, 6 Oct 2015