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Biking around Australia
Craig Update #7
(sent March 18th, 2002 from Melbourne, Victoria )

Hey...

Uh, I'm done. It was neat.

Steve (sitting across from me right now) says I've hit a post historical epoch. That is a little too much to think about now, so I'll hit the ice cream again instead.

I rolled into downtown Melbourne around 3pm on March 12th. Made my way down to Luna Park in St. Kilda where the "official" start of my trip began on February 13th, 2002. It was kind of funny biking on the same bike paths and seeing the same graffiti still there. Somewhere before the finish I passed a huge sign painted on a fence that read, "What's Next?" I found that a little unnerving. I pulled up to the big clown face (look on the front of the lunky.com site) and touched the gate..I was done. Ended up being about 12,600 mi/20,300km to go all the way round. It was a pretty uneventful ending actually. Not a bunch of crazy jumping up and down and whoohoos. I didn't say "yo Adrian I did it!" with a punched up face. I didn't high-five a bunch of people like cops do after a major drug bust on TV. No quiet moments reflection and new age thoughts. About the only thing I did contemplate there in front of the Luna Park clown was going back up to Fitzroy street and getting another piece of pizza. I did meet a few English people there and talked to them awhile. One guy asked me "What's Next?" I told him a sign just asked me that about three blocks ago.

To be honest, the Pacific Crest Trail finish in 1996 was a bit more interesting than this trip. This is when I finished and had to hitchhike to the next town. I got picked up by this guy who'd just gotten out of the joint after 9 months and kept going off about his ex-girlfriend breaking his heart and now there was all this "restraining order bullshit" on him now. None of that this time though, I just biked north to the cool town of Coburg to Steve and Katrina's house. Steve is the swell guy who was uploading my big travel site updates to the lunky.com site. I've been holed up here at their house for the last week.

I pretty much rode the last 10 days of the ride without any days off. I'd found out from Katrina that a Mr. Richard Buckner was playing two shows in Melbourne on the 13th and 14th. I figured this would be a nice way to end the trip. The Buckner shows were great and I talked with him for a while in his dressing room. In the dressing room I met a few prominent Australian Rock Stars there, but I can't remember their names. Richard spent half the show the first night doing a comedy routine...basically just a lot of interacting with the audience and going off about how incredibly attractive the stewardesses on Virgin Blue airlines are. (I'm flying to Hobart today...on Virgin Blue, heh). The next night I took the train into town and walked in the direction of the Rob Roy where the show was. Somehow I missed the street and ended up walking about two miles too far. Being male, I'm physically unable to ask for directions. On the way back to the Rob Roy (after asking directions) there was some sort of C.O.P.S. type thing happening at the housing project. A bunch of stuff was smashed on the ground, people screaming, and there were cops everywhere. I walked though the whole mess like nothing was going on...had to get to the show! I walked into the Rob Roy and someone grabbed me on the shoulder...it was Grubby who I biked with up north for a week or so! It was good to catch up and I ended up spending a couple days at his place. A couple days later we went to some war-themed party. I ended up falling asleep in the van out on the street. (Not from drinking too much, just from being too old and tired).

Here are some of the more interesting things that happened during the last 3,000km leg from Southwest Australia to Melbourne:

There is a long section of road across the bottom of Australia called the Nullabor. It is basically a section of road about 1,000 miles long with no towns in between, just a handful of gas stations. It has a fair amount of traffic (a car every 5 minutes or so), so although you are in the middle of nowhere, there are still plenty of people around. The worst thing about the Nullabor was the dreaded Nullabor Conversation. This occurs when you meet up with a motorist and they ask you stuff like "you biked the Nullabor?" I'd try and convince them that up north or heck, East Melbourne was by far more dangerous than then Nullabor but they wouldn't have it. I'd try and put it into some sort of logical perspective but I'd just get a dim "...but there are no towns, how do you eat?!" sorta thing in response.

Anyway, right after the last update I started biking east of Esperance. I took a quiet dirt road that cut northeast up to the Nullabor...thus saving about three days of riding on a highway. About 70km out of Esperance there was this little town of 100 people named Condingup. To make a long email short, I got kidnapped by this nice family with seven kids. I ended up spending three days with Kevin, his wife Louise, and a few of their kids. Kevin said his son Ben was going fishing tomorrow and I should go. At 4am the next morning someone was waking me up...it was Ben. We spent the morning out on the ocean and we caught a few fish...including a large squid. As they were hauling it into the boat it squirted a large quantity of ink everywhere, most of it missed me but it slimed Ben pretty good. Kevin and Louise had two young daughters about ages 5 and 7. I think I might have gotten on Lousie's bad side a little when I unleashed the sacred knowledge of the armpit fart to the little girls. The girls kept pestering me to teach them. To get back on mom's good side I told them I would, but they had to work out this monster long division problem first (which they didn't do...thus no teaching). Later on I might have lost points with mum again when the two little girls were running around house singing "Put me in a wheelchair, put me on a plane, hurry hurry hurry, before I go insane, I can't control my fingers I can't control my toes, oh oh oh oh oh". Now the girls can sing some Ramones songs along with Brittney Spears. Also at the house was their son Abe who was about 14 or so. He was a little quiet and didn't talk much. I noticed he had a guitar and we talked about music a little. When mom wasn't around I slipped him a CD I'd made for him containing a bunch of Husker Du songs. The next morning before I left I asked him if the CD worked ok in his CD player. He lit up and said, "Yeah!...it did....man....THE GUITAR!" heh, another convert.

Going across the Nullabor was uneventful story wise. The road was a bit unique though. There is one stretch of road where there are no curves for 90 miles! Another stretch was along the Great Australian Bight. This is where the coastline basically just drops off a cliff, 300 feet down to the ocean. It goes like this for a long long way. I was a bit worried I'd have High-5 kids songs stuck in my head after staying at Sam and Nadia's so long, but that didn't happen. There were a couple days though where I couldn't get that sappy Dan Fogelberg song out of my head, the one where he meets his old girlfriend in the frozen foods section of the grocery store and they end up trying to find a bar but everything was closed so they buy some beer and drink it in the car and she is married to an architect and she has seen him in the record stores and he must be doing well, then the snow turns to rain. sniff

Many of the roadhouses weren't that interesting except for the Balladonia roadhouse, which had part of Skylab in it. This is the area where Skylab crashed in 1979 and I got a nice beer cooler saying so. Jimmy Carter phoned the roadhouse in 1979 to apologize for the wreck. They also had a copy of the ticket they sent to NASA for littering.

http://www.users.bigpond.com/balladonia/history/skylab.htm
http://www.nullarbornet.com.au/towns/balladonia.html


A few days after I left the Nullabor I was riding somewhere south of Ceduna. I noticed my front chainrings had a bit of a wobble to them so I hopped off the bike thinking the crank bolts came loose. Turns out it was a bit worse; the entire frame was broken at the cranks/bottom bracket. I was just glad it wasn't a flat tire. Using that same roll of duct tape I found in north Queensland, I taped up the frame and rode another 250 miles on it until I could get it welded.

Frame cracked:
http://www.lunky.com/showLargeImage.php?l=2-11-2003&n=30

And this held it for another 250 miles:
http://www.lunky.com/showLargeImage.php?l=2-11-2003&n=31


Had a nice couple of days off in the small town of Elliston on the Eyre Peninsula. I ate a nice dinner at the bakery and went over to the pub and had a beer. I was just getting ready to leave when a guy came up to me and asked me if that was me he saw a couple days ago in Smokey Bay. His name was "MV". The first thing I thought of was that his name was also the Unix command for moving/renaming a file. Everyone in the pub ended up buying me beer. MV kept introducing me as "Hey...I'd like you to meet George Bush's son Craig". Given the current state of affairs I kept having to go into damage control quite quickly. The next night I went over to a birthday party of a guy named Manny who worked at the bakery. Met all kinds of people at the party. About six of us ended up staying out on the front porch till 4am playing and singing songs. The songs were originals, and covers ranging from Nirvana to George Michael. Amazingly I still got on the road by noon and biked nearly a full day.

us all rocking out:
http://www.lunky.com/showLargeImage.php?l=2-15-2003&n=16


I was in Port Lincoln and just had gotten my bike frame welded. Went to the store and bought a 2 liter (0.5283441 gallons) of Orange Juice, drinking most of it in a few minutes. (This is significant...keep reading). Went and did some Internet and started biking back towards the center of town. Oh yeah, for those up you itemizing the music references in these emails, Port Lincoln contains a jewelry store named "Ween's Jewelry". I didn't know if I was going to stay in town or head out, but due to the large amount of Orange Juice I drank, I had to go tinkle (potty, take a leak/piss, #1, urinate, visit the dunny, etc.). I biked down to the Port area of town where the public toilets were. After I came out of the toilet there was a businessman running over towards me. He introduced himself as Kingsley. He said his wife Raelene was a "mad (fanatical) touring cyclist". I talked with him for about 14 seconds and he invited me over to their place to stay. I spent a few days at their house since it was raining. It was good to stay over at their place and discover new and exciting things. Raelene pointed out that with the Shimano Sandals create a nice map of Tasmania on your foot. Raelene and I both have the sandals:

http://www.lunky.com/showLargeImage.php?l=2-18-2003&n=21


Met up with Jens the German Guy in Adelaide. He was living in a house on the beach west near Adelaide. I had met Jens in May 2002 at the hostel in Sydney. In October 2002 I had missed Jens and his girlfriend by about two hours in Broome. Jens told me that they saw this cyclist camped by the side of the road, way out in the middle of nowhere. It turned out to be this Japanese kid about 20 who didn't speak a word of English. Apparently the Japanese kid confused by the whole situation, especially when Jens started to make hand motions about a piece of cardboard with numbers on it. You'll have to look on the news page of the clock site to see Jens; I don't have the travel site updated yet:

http://www.humanclock.com/news.php

I haven't been keeping up with my email over the past couple of months, but plan on answering it in the coming week. Oh yeah, Internet on the Nullabor at the West/South Australian border was the modest price of AUD $24.00 an hour. Anyway, feel free to write, I'm not going to New Zealand until March 31st. I'll probably send out one or two updates from there and that will be it.

take care,
Craig


p.s. New term I learned. If you need to describe a friend's lackluster deadbeat loser boyfriend...you can refer to him has a "drop-kick boyrfriend".

p.s.s. In the town of Warrnambool, South Australia, there is a car wash named "Guns & Hoses". I only found out about it after I left town, argh.




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© 2002-2003 Daniel Craig Giffen

Daniel Craig Giffen
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