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Esperance to Perth Bicycle Tour – 978 km – April 2010

 

Surly Long Haul Trucker re-built after the flight and read for action on the Esperance to Perth Ride - Photo taken at Esperance

Surly Long Haul Trucker re-built after the flight and read for action on the Esperance to Perth Ride – Photo taken at Esperance

Myself, Stuart, Perry and Mike undertook a road based bicycle tour from Esperance back to Perth via Salmon Gums, Peak Charles, Norseman, Hyden, Kondinin, Corrigin and Brookton.  The ride took eight days on the bike, plus a day travelling to Esperance. Myself, Mike and Stuart flew to Esperance on Skywest Airlines Perry took the Transwa bus.  It also outlines an alternative route for riders coming in from the eastern states or heading east for the section from Norseman to Perth. In my view this is a much more interesting option than stressing out on the Great Eastern Highway.

The  ride itself turned out to be 1,024 km in distance, when really it should have been around 978 kilometres. The extra came about because we attempted to take a short cut to Peak Charles National Park based on what turned out to be an old and inaccurate map.  I completed the ride on my Surly Long Haul Trucker which I fitted with racks and used my Deuter and Ortleib panniers.

The ride involves riding on bitumen roads of various widths along with over 357 km of dirt roads particularly on the road from Norseman to Hyden (The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail) and out to Peak Charles and return.

Accommodation in the towns was the local caravan park, whereas we camped out at Peak Charles, McDermid Rock and Forrestania Plots.  Water needs to be carried for Peak Charles National Park, McDermid Rock and Forrestania Plots (we worked on four litres for each day riding and two litres for the overnight stay).  It really depends on the temperature. We found we could easily consume three litres riding on some days.

Some thoughts on the approach taken:

Bike Boxes: A fully built up touring Surly Long Haul Trucker with front and rear racks, mudguards and kick stand does not fit into a Giant brand of bike box, well one that was used to ship out a medium-sized mountain bike. I found I had to remove the wheels, handlebars, seat post and rear derailleur as expected. What was not expected was the need to loosen off the front rack so I could fold it back, the need to remove the Hebie kick stand and the need to remove the rear mudguard. Once I had this all done, I was able to get the bike in along with my two front Ortlieb classic panniers, my tent, cycling shoes and a couple of water bottles and other small odds and ends and still close the box up so it did not look like it was bursting at the seams, well too much anyway.

Flying versus the bus: The actual flight was one hour 40 minutes, but we really needed to be out at the airport about an hour before, probably a bit early, then there was the packing time, the unpacking and re-assembly time (took a good two to three hours) and the taxi fare in from the airport to Esperance which cost $64 for the two of us. So was it worth it? I really don’t  think so. I would be inclined to make it simple and go via the bus next time.

Maps: I threw out the map I used so cannot give specific the details but it was published Quality Publishing Australia (QPA).  Frankly I would suggest staying clear of their maps if the one I had is anything to go by. It was not dated, it was inaccurate and printed on paper which didn’t handle life on the road for more than a day or two.  I would suggest making use of StreetSmart Touring Map series. The one relevant to this ride is the Goldfields-Esperance map.  Also for The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail there is a mud-map and information brochure available for download. West of Hyden the Hema map, Mid West Western Australia should be sufficient.

Public Holidays/Sundays: As we travelled over the Easter weekend accommodation was very limited in Esperance (we had to book our tent site in advance) and the shops were closed on the public holidays. I also noticed that in towns such as Norseman the shops were closed on the public holidays and generally the local IGA (grocery store) or similar did not open Sundays. Something to keep in mind with respect to re-supply.

Gear List: I have published a list of the gear I carry on my bicycle tours here.

Bike and Tyres: As indicated I rode my Surly Long Haul Trucker for this ride, fitted with front and rear panniers. I went with panniers as I was flying down to Esperance and really didn’t want a hassle with trying to pack my BOB Ibex trailer. Upon reflection I would have preferred to tour with the trailer over the panniers. I think it would have helped on the gravel sections (improve handling) and also into the winds. There was quite a bit of head and cross wind riding.

Other than the rear derailleur not selecting a key gear when used in index mode and loosing my cadence monitor magnet I had no bike maintenance issues.  I did re-lube the chain at Norseman in preparation for the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail.

My tyre choice was Schwalbe Marathon Cross HS 334 tyres and I believe both Stuart and Mike also road with the same tyres. I found particularly with the tyre pressure lowered for the Peak Charles National Park section that they handled the gravel roads well and where reasonable on the bitumen. That said, there is clearly some noticeable rolling resistance on the bitumen as they sound like a four-wheel drive tyre, so would not be my first choice for bitumen road touring.

I didn’t have any punctures over the tour, however, Stuart did have one, the only one in the group. I believe his was caused by a stone. So overall I am happy with my choice of tyres fro this tour.

Photos: A small selection of photos are included here to illustrate the ride. The full gambit of photos that I took can be found in the tour gallery.

 

The Esperance to Perth Itinerary As it Panned Out - Actual Kilometres

Day The Route Distance/Comment
1 - Friday April 2, 2010 Perth to Esperance Approximately 735 km by road. I flew down via Skywest Airlines.
2 - Saturday April 3, 2010 Esperance to Salmon Gums 114 km as we ducked back into Esperance for a spot of shopping.
3 - Sunday April 4, 2010 Salmon Gums to Peak Charles National Park 108 km as we took a “short cut.”  Lot of rough gravel road riding on this route.
4 - Monday April 5, 2010 Peak Charles National Park to Norseman 114 km. Approximately 56 km of gravel road followed by good bitumen road. No facilities or towns on this section.
5 – Tuesday April 6, 2010 Norseman to McDermid Rock - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail 131 km. With the exception of riding in Norseman itself this section is all gravel road. That said the road is in very good condition.
6 - Wednesday April 7, 2010 McDermid Rock to Forrestania Plots – The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail 131 km. Good riding on the gravel roads up to the shire boundary. Went downhill fast from there.
7 - Thursday April 8, 2010 Forrestania Plots - Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail to Kondinin 135 km. Very poor quality gravel road for 21 km then bitumen through to Kondinin. My route included a visit to Wave Rock and Karlgarin.
8 - Friday April 9, 2010 Kondinin to Brookton 143 km. Good bitumen road all the way. Corrigin is the only town passed through.
9 - Saturday April 10, 2010 Brookton to Churchlands 148 km. Brookton to Karragullen then urban riding through to Churchlands.

 

Day 1 -  Friday April 2, 2010 - Perth to Esperance

Myself, Mike and Stuart flew to Esperance on Skywest Airlines, whereas Perry travelled down via the Transwa bus service.  In terms of flying, there was no hassle taking the  bike on Skywest. It did need to be boxed up and they charged $20.00 to take it.  I also had two panniers and my handlebar bag; again no issues with this luggage.

Mike and Perry breaking camp at the Esperance Seafront Caravan Park

Mike and Perry breaking camp at the Esperance Seafront Caravan Park

Myself, Perry and Mike camped at the Esperance Seafront Caravan Park. We did need to book in advance due to the Easter weekend. The site cost was $34.00 and the park is reasonable.  It was booked out apparently for Easter.

Myself and Mike took a taxi in from the airport to Esperance. As we had two bike boxes a maxi-cab was required and hence we paid a premium for this.  The cost was $64.00.

With the hassle of packing up the bike (see above), getting to the airport, getting from the Esperance airport into town and reassemble of the bike, I think I will just take the bus in future.

To get the Long Haul Trucker into the bike box I had to remove the rear mudguard, the kickstand, seat and pedals. As well I did remove and tape within the frame the rear derailleur and removed the handlebars. In addition I had to loosen the front rack to shorten the bike. The bike arrived in Esperance undamaged but the box did show signs of rough handling.

 

Day 2  Saturday April 3, 2010 – Esperance to Salmon Gums - 108 km

Esperance to Salmon Gums

Mike having ascend Six Mile Hill out of Esperance

Mike having ascend Six Mile Hill out of Esperance

This is a flat route, average grade of 2 %, maximum 6% which is Six Mile Hill just out of Esperance.  The total climb as recorded by my Sigma Sports ROX 9 was 441 metres. There is Telstra Next G coverage at Salmon Gums and a public phone booth.

The ride is all on bitumen and the road is good. Not much of a shoulder but fairly wide and well maintained. We found the traffic was fairly light and well-behaved. All up good riding on this section.

Perry, Stuart, Mike and bikes at Gibson on our ride from Esperance to Perth

Perry, Stuart, Mike and bikes at Gibson on our ride from Esperance to Perth

From Esperance the only hill on the route is Six Mile Hill at 6% incline. From here the ride is a gradual incline through to Salmon Gums.  The first and really only stop in terms of food and drink is at Gibson, home of the Gibson Soak Hotel, a small store and postal agency which is about 28 km north of Esperance.

Scaddan Pioneer Park - Perth to Esperance by Bicycle

Perry and Stuart at Scadden Pioneer Park

The next locality is Scadden. Scadden is now just a pioneer park, but well worth a stop. There is water available here and toilets.

Grass Patch - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Welcome to Grass Patch

On from Scadden is Grass Patch, which was our planned lunch stop. Well it is pretty much nothing more than a patch for sure. Basically it consists of a pretty unfriendly pub. Don’t expect anything much in the way of food, drink or friendly service.  There is a water tap on the north side of the pub.

Surly Long Haul Trucker at Salmon Gums - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Surly Long Haul Trucker at Salmon Gums

Next stop, Salmon Gums. Salmon Gums is a roadhouse, pub (cheap beer - we paid $2.50 for a stubby of Coopers) and a very friendly but basic caravan park.  Camping cost $5.00 per person for a tent site, use of a picnic table, shower and a sink to clean dishes etc in. No camp kitchen but. We had a great night here as it was the caretaker’s birthday so he put a barbecue on for all the people staying the park. Charged $5.00 for a feed. Money well spent!

Sense of humour at Salmon Gums - Esperance to Perth

Sense of humour at Salmon Gums

 

Day 3 - Saturday April 3, 2010 - Salmon Gums to Peak Charles National Park - 72 km

Salmon Gums to Peak Charles National Park

To Peak Charles National Park - Perth to Esperance by bicycle

At last – 20 kilometres to go to the Peak Charles camping ground

This is a fairly flat route, average grade of 1%, maximum 4%, however the route is pretty much all gravel/sandy rough roads; not the best and hard going at times.  The total climb as recorded by my Sigma Sports ROX 9 was 424 metres. I forgot to note if there was Telstra Next G coverage at Peak Charles National Park camping ground – whoops.

Lake King - Norseman Road - Rough surface was a fair description - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Lake King – Norseman Road – Rough surface was a fair description

Well our 72 kilometre ride plus climb of Peak Charles turned into a 108 km slog on mainly gravel roads and no time to climb Peak Charles.  The joys of using what turned out to be a rather old map and/or incorrect one. Our map showed a track from Hanson Road through to Peak Charles which would save a fair few kilometres. It didn’t as the track no longer exists. It is farm land now days.

Peak Charles - Perth to Esperance by Bicycle

Peak Charles National Park

The correct route is to head north on Esperance - Norseman Road until turning left on to the Kumarl - Lake King Road. From this road one turns left again on to the Norseman-Lake King Road and eventually off to Peak Charles itself.  The first 25 kilometres is on bitumen and then the road goes to pack with some pretty rough riding through to the Norseman – Lake King Road. It improves here for bit before again getting rough as one enters the National Park.

Peak Charles from the Camping Ground Carpark - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Peak Charles from the Camping Ground Carpark

Relaxing after brrekky at Peak Charles National Park - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Relaxing after brekky at Peak Charles National Park

Perry and bikes at Peak Charles National Park - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Perry and bikes at Peak Charles National Park

Camping at Peak Charles National Park - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Camping at Peak Charles National Park

At Peak Charles there is a basic campsite which is poorly positioned as it got very windy here, with the wind swirling around.  In terms of facilities, there are picnic tables, fire pits and a drop-box toilet. There is no water at Peak Charles.

The walk to the Peak Charles Lookout is a medium 2 km, 1 hour climb. The sign at the campground suggests to allow three hours for the return climb to the summit.

Day 4 - Monday April 5, 2010 - Peak Charles National Park to Norseman - 108 km

Peak Charles National Park to Norseman

Mike leading the way out of Peak Charles National Park - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Mike leading the way out of Peak Charles National Park

This is an undulating route, average grade of 2%, maximum 7%. The route is gravel/sandy rough roads for the first 56 km; not the best and hard going at times.  The total climb as recorded by my Sigma Sports ROX 9 was 535 metres. There is Telstra Next G coverage at Norseman and there are public phone booths available.

Great Western Woodlands - Perth to Esperance by Bicycle

Great Western Woodlands

As with the day before, the gravel roads where pretty rough for most of the 56 km. Lots of corrugations and rocky sections.  One thing that did help on the gravel section was reducing the tyre pressure to 60 psi front and back.

As it was Easter Monday, the IGA (grocery store) was closed. We where able to do a reasonable re-supply at the BP Roadhouse which was reasonably priced as well. It is open 24 hours a day.

The Tent Site - Gateway Caravan Park, Norseman - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

The Tent Site – Gateway Caravan Park, Norseman

Settling in at the Gateway Caravan Park, Norseman - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Settling in at the Gateway Caravan Park, Norseman

We camped at the Gateway Caravan Park in Norseman. Cost was $26.00 for a site, i.e., $6.50 per person. Good facilities including a camp kitchen and laundry.

There are no towns on this section, in fact there is nothing from Salmon Gums so we ensured we carried sufficient water and food for lunch for the two days.

Day 5 - Tuesday April 6, 2010 - Norseman to McDermid Rock - 131 km


Norseman to McDermid Rock
This is an undulating route. The route is very good gravel roads once you leave Norseman.  The average grade is 2%, maximum 5%. The total climb as recorded by my Sigma Sports ROX 9 was 672 metres. There is no Telstra Next G coverage at McDermid Rock.

This by far the more interesting section of the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail in my view. It starts with Lake Cowan at Norseman and includes other interesting sites including the Gemfields and Woodlands picnic areas, Disappointment Rock (walk trail) and the camping locations of Lake Johnston and McDermid Rock (walk trail as well).

Esperance to Perth by bicycle - The Proverbial Norseman Photo Take 1

The Proverbial Norseman Photo Take 1

Esperance to Perth by bicycle - The Proverbial Norseman Photo Take 2

The Proverbial Norseman Photo Take 2

Esperance to Perth by bicycle - "297 km" of discovery trail

“297 km” of discovery trail

Esperance to Perth by bicycle - Things are looking good - all open

Things are looking good – all open

Once we got the obligatory photos taken in Norseman we where off on the 297 km Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail heading to Hyden with our first planned stop being McDermid Rock.   There is a road condition status board to show the road status just as you leave Norseman; mind you the alternatives are a long way on a bike if you are heading west and the road is closed. Luckily for us it was all go for us on this ride.

After the road status sign, Granite and Woodlands Trail follows the Lake Cowan causeway.  Lake Cowan is the first interpretative point as you leave Norseman.

Heading west out of Norseman through the Lake Cowan

Heading west out of Norseman through Lake Cowan

The colours of Lake Cowan, Norseman

The colours of Lake Cowan, Norseman

Lake Cowan from the Lake Cown Lookout, Norseman

Lake Cowan playas (pans) from the Lake Cowan Lookout, Norseman

After Lake Cowan you join the Norseman-Hyden Road proper and again there are warning signs. This time of the road trains that ply the route out from Norseman to the mines west of McDermid Rock,  We only came across a few road-trains and all of them where professional, slowing down as they passed us.

It is road-train country out of Norseman on the Norseman-Hyden Road

It is road-train country out of Norseman on the Norseman-Hyden Road

Playing with the raod trains on the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Playing with the road trains on the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Surly Long Haul Trucker on the Norseman-Hyden Road

Surly Long Haul Trucker on the Norseman-Hyden Road

The next stopping point on the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail as you head west to Hyden, is Woodlands.  Woodlands Walk Trail is nothing more than rest stop and maybe wild camping area if needed. It is about 7.5 km east of the Lake Cowan Lookout.

At the Woodlands - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

At the Woodlands – The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

From Woodlands the Trial continues on to Disappointment Rock,  a low rock with an easy 1,900 metre walk with plenty of interpretative sights along the way. A nice break from riding.

Disappointment Rock - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Disappointment Rock – The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

After Disappointment Rock, is Lake Johnston. Lake Johnston is considered the key feature on this section of the The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail.  Stretching out on the south side is the major pan of the lake where as to the east a large lunette has developed.  The interesting thing about Lake Johnston is that it is not one lake, but rather a chain of playas stretching some 100 km from its northern end to its southern end.  With a good rain it turns into a “proper” blue-water lake.

Mike @ Lake Johnston viewpoint - The Lake Johnston playa's stretch south to the hriozon - Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Mike @ Lake Johnston viewpoint – The Lake Johnston playa’s stretch south to the horizon – Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

From Lake Johnston we rode on to our planned overnight campsite at McDermid Rock.  Whilst there is no water on the Trail, it is possible that there will be water on McDermid Rock after rains. There are rock pools and a small dam on the rock.  The small dam on the Rock was built by J. O. Magee who was granted a pastoral lease in the area in mid-1950s. It  is believed the dam was built to try and provide water for the stock. The lease was cancelled in 1958 and then ended the attempts at pastoralism in the area.

Pools of water on McDermid Rock - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Pools of water on McDermid Rock

View from McDermid Rock - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

View from McDermid Rock

Sun setting over McDermid Rock - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Sun setting over McDermid Rock

Morning camp at Mc Dermid Rock - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Morning camp at Mc Dermid Rock – The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

At McDermid Rock camping area, which is about 1.5 km in from the Hyden – Norseman Road, has a few picnic tables and fire rings along with a drop-box toilet but no water tanks.  There is also a 1,271 metre walk trail on the rock, the McDermid Rock Walk Trail which is worth completing. It is quite informative.

 

Day 6 - Wednesday April 7, 2010 - McDermid Rock to Forrestania Plots - 131 km


McDermid Rock to Forrestania Plots
Day six of our bicycle ride from Esperance to Perth found us “enjoying” the second day on The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail as we continued west towards Hyden. Today we aimed for Forrestania Plots.

The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail - McDermid Rock to Forrestania Plots

The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail – McDermid Rock to Forrestania Plots

This is an undulating route. The route is very good gravel roads up to the Shire Boundary where the condition of the road deteriorates quickly.  It really is quite a contrast in road conditions between the efforts of the Shire of Dundas on one hand the total lack of effort by the Shire of Kondinin on the other.  Due to problems with my Sigma ROX 9 I have no other data for this section.  There is no Telstra Next G coverage at Forrestania Plots.

Memorial to Hayley Scott-Healey

Memorial to Hayley Scott-Healey

On a sad note, there is a road-side memorial to Hayley Scott-Healey who was killed on this road in a motor vehicle crash on January 1, 2008.  I sad reminder to be careful on the roads at all times.

The next significant point on The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail is Emily Ann, about 32 kilometres west of McDermid Rock.  Emily Ann is an information site about the nearby mines and really not much else other than a short and I mean short section of bitumen.

Stuart and Mike at Emily Ann - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Stuart and Mike at Emily Ann – The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

After another 24 kilometres on the The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail is The Breakaways.  The Breakaways are worth taking the time to drop off the Norseman-Hyden Road for a visit. There is also good camping here but it can get very cold here at night in winter.

Perry's Vivente World Traveller at The Breakaways

Perry’s Vivente World Traveller at The Breakaways

The Breakaways - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

The Breakaways – The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Continuing on from The Breakaways is Grevillea Hill. Nothing more than a picnic table here. Stuart punctured here. IIRC the only puncture on the tour.

Slip, slap, slop at Grevillea Hill - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Slip, slap, slop at Grevillea Hill

The next information point on the road is the Shire Boundary which marks the leaving of the Shire Dundas and at the time great a great road to ride and the entering of the Shire of Kondinin and a shockingly rough ride from here until we popped back out on to the bitumen west of the State Barrier Fence. It was amazing to experience the difference in road conditions and how a change in attitude to road maintenance can make such a difference to the experience of The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail. I hope the Shire of Kondinin now has its act together.  If you have more recent experiences of the Norseman – Hyden Road do let us know via the comments below.

Surly Long Haul Trucker at the Shire of Kondinin - Shire of Dundas Boundary - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Surly Long Haul Trucker at the Shire of Kondinin – Shire of Dundas Boundary

After the Shire Boundary we continued on to Forrestania Plots which was our camping stop for the night.  Forrestania Plots is nothing more than a rest area with space further in from the road that can be used for camping.  There is nothing else here; no fire ring, no toilet and most importantly to note, no water at all.  We camped behind the pull in area which is sheltered by the pine trees and is quite flat.

Mike enjoying the luxeries of the Forrestania Plots - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Mike enjoying the luxuries of the Forrestania Plots

Stuart chilling out at Forrestania Plots - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Stuart chilling out at Forrestania Plots

Perry setting up at Forrestania Plots - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Perry setting up at Forrestania Plots

My camp at Forrestania Plots - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

My camp at Forrestania Plots

Mmm is Mike getting dinner?

Mmm is Mike getting dinner?

Yes! Success with the dinner :)

Yes! Success with the dinner :)

 Day 7 - Thursday April 8, 2010 - Forrestania Plots to Kondinin 135 km


Forrestania Plots – Kondinin

Day seven of our Esperance to Perth ride had us on the undulating route leaving Forrestania Plots and The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail at Hyden and back into riding the bitumen in the wheatbelt.

The average grade is 2%, maximum 6%. The total climb as recorded by my Sigma Sports ROX 9 was 638 metres. There is Telstra Next G coverage at Hyden and Kondinin as well as public phone booths.

According to Google Maps and my Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail guide this route is only 107 km, however, I recorded a route length of 135 km. I did visit Wave Rock and Karlgarin but these diversions do not explain the discrepancy. I know it felt like 135 km!

Road west of Forrestania Plots - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Road west of Forrestania Plots – The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

The riding is very poor gravel road for approximately 21 km and then the bitumen starts.  The road did improve a little bit west of the State Barrier Fence but was really saved by the now extended section of bitumen coming in at the 21 km point. Of course where the Shire gives, the Shire takes away and the undulations started and they last pretty much for the rest of the route.

Holland Track - Interesecting with the Norseman - Hyden Road

Holland Track – Intersecting with the Norseman – Hyden Road

Before the State Barrier Fence we passed the Holland Track (this is probably the southern end of what is left of the “real” Holland Track and something I would like to ride.) Not long after the Holland Track we came upon the State Barrier Fence and one and only cattle grid for the road. The State Barrier Fence pretty well marks the end of the dirt road riding and not long afterwards we were back on the bitumen.

State Barrier Fence - The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

State Barrier Fence – The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail

Once you leave the dirt the next point of interest before coming into Hyden is Wave Rock.  There are a few facilities at Wave Rock along with the scenic attractions of course. The Visitors Centre does food and there is a store at the caravan park (I didn’t actually go in to the store so not sure how useful it would be for re-supply).

Wave Rock - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Wave Rock

From Wave Rock it is about four kilometres into Hyden. Hyden has really improved in recent years and now has a great bakery and IGA. I think we all pretty much re-supplied here at the IGA.

Hyden Memorial Hall - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Hyden Memorial Hall

Hyden's First Power Station - Bicycle Power!

Hyden’s First Power Station – Bicycle Power!

A taste of the wheatbelt - Hyden to Kondinin

A taste of the wheatbelt – Hyden to Kondinin

Memories from my days in Kulin - Early 80's

Memories from my days in Kulin – Early 80′s

From Hyden I dropped briefly into Kalgarin - Small and Proud (800 metres off the highway) for fluids and then continued on to Kondinin. Karlgarin is the last source of water/food before Kondinin.

The road from Hyden is quite reasonable and the traffic is pretty light.  The road does deteriorate marginally on the edges west from the Kalgarin Hills.

Camping at Kondinin was at the town caravan park (grass area). It cost us $8.00 + a $10.00 key deposit each which I didn’t use nor need. The shower/toilet was open all night. The only downsides with this caravan park is that the Shire does not seem to believe in global warming, leaving instead all the lights on overnight. There did not seem anyway to turn them off, so we were spot-lighted for the night. Does this make us celebrities?  Oh there is no camp kitchen here at the “caravan park.”

Kondinin Roadhouse - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Kondinin “Golden Fleece” Roadhouse

 

Day 8 -  Friday April 9, 2010 - Kondinin to Brookton 143 km

Kondinin to Brookton

Todays ride was our eight-day on our tour from Esperance to Perth and it would turn out to be our next to the last day.  This section is an undulating route. The route is good bitumen road for the ride.   The average grade is 2%, maximum 5%. The total climb as recorded by my Sigma Sports ROX 9 was 699 metres. There is Telstra Next G coverage at Corrigin and Brookton as well as public phone booths.

Golden Fields out of Kondinin - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Golden Fields out of Kondinin

Corrigin - Dog in a Ute - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Corrigin – Dog in a Ute

Corrigin - Home of the Dog in a Ute - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Corrigin – Home of the Dog in a Ute

The ride through to Corrigin is very good with Gorge Rock being worth a visit if you have the time. Corrigin is the major town on this wheatbelt section of the ride.  Corrigin has a few shops including a hardware, IGA and a chemist.   Corrigin is famous for two things: Dog in a Ute and its Dog Cemetery.

Corrigin Dog Cemetery - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Corrigin Dog Cemetery

The Riders - Corrigin Dog Cemetery - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

The Riders – Corrigin Dog Cemetery

From Corrigin, the road is a bit more patchy, but still good riding.  The most frustrating aspect of today’s riding was the flies … had to resort to extreme measures to keep them at bay …

The Australian Fly Net ... - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

The Australian Fly Net …

First glimpses of Brookton - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

First glimpses of Brookton

The “big” hills are just out of Brookton of course. Brookton has a co-op which is good for resupply and a couple of roadhouses but not much else .

Perry in thought at the Brookton Caravan Park and Camping Ground - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Perry in thought at the Brookton Caravan Park and Camping Ground

Our campsite at the Brookton Caravan Park and Camping Ground - Esperance to Perth by Bicycle

Our campsite at the Brookton Caravan Park and Camping Ground

We camped at the Caravan Park and Camping Ground which is very expensive! The charge to camp is $17.00 per person or $17.00 for two persons in one tent.  Whilst it did have a grass area to camp on, there is no camp kitchen and compared to all the other places we camped at, this is just a blatant rip-off. Frankly I doubt I would bother staying in Brookton again and would plan my rides to avoid the town where possible.

 

Day 9 - Saturday April 10, 2010 - Brookton to Churchlands (Perth) 150 km


Brookton to Churchlands (Perth)

This was our final day of riding from Esperance to Perth and it was a fairly big day.  This is more of a hilly route where the average grade is 3% and the maximum 7%. The total climb as recorded by my Sigma Sports ROX 9 was 1,193 metres.

This was the most unpleasant section of the ride.   The traffic increased significantly between Brookton and Karragullen with the behaviour of the drivers also deteriorating as they volume increased. There was also a fair bit of road train traffic on this section.  Frankly I was glad to get off the Brookton Highway and whilst there was still Orrong Road to come, at least there was an end in sight and bike paths to come.

The section through to Karragullen was by far the hilliest section and overall I recorded 1,193 metres on today’s ride.

This section of the route crosses both the Bibbulmun Track and Munda Biddi Trail both of which provide possible camping spots.  Should I go this way again, I would consider making use of the Brookton Campsite on the Bibbulmun Track as it can be easily accessed by bicycle and is only a few kilometres off Brookton Highway.

There is really not much more to add to this day’s report. Once we cleared the hills it was typical suburban riding. I did take the “long route” to Churchlands so I could tick off 1,000 km for the ride.

Overall this is a good ride and one worth considering if you are looking to explore the wheatbelt of Western Australia or are looking for an alternative route from Perth out to Norseman on to the Nullabor or vice versa.  Personally I would go through Hyden and on to Norseman rather than taking on Great Eastern Highway but then I do enjoy riding the dirt.  I would also consider looking at an alternative route maybe through to Jarrahdale and then into Perth that way to avoid the Brookton Highway.

Anyway your questions or comments are most welcome below.

29 Responses to Esperance to Perth Bicycle Tour – 978 km – April 2010

  1. Daniel Santamaria April 11, 2010 at 11:30 AM #

    Looks like an awesome ride. Some great Australian terrain. I’d like to do this ride some day.

  2. Daniel Santamaria April 11, 2010 at 7:30 PM #

    Looks like an awesome ride. Some great Australian terrain. I’d like to do this ride some day.

  3. Margaret Mabey April 11, 2010 at 11:04 PM #

    Hi Andrew, Well Done!! Looks like a great ride -very different to the roads here in NZ. I am sure you would encounter a lot more traffic as we don’t get quite so isolated!
    Having said that I bet someone somewhere here has sussed out a few good challenging rides especially in the south.
    The kms per day you did are pretty high on some days? What was the average riding time per day?

    Well done!

  4. Margaret Mabey April 12, 2010 at 7:04 AM #

    Hi Andrew, Well Done!! Looks like a great ride -very different to the roads here in NZ. I am sure you would encounter a lot more traffic as we don’t get quite so isolated!
    Having said that I bet someone somewhere here has sussed out a few good challenging rides especially in the south.
    The kms per day you did are pretty high on some days? What was the average riding time per day?

    Well done!

  5. Darryl Chrisp April 12, 2010 at 12:13 AM #

    @Andrew: Great ride and great report. Those were big days in the saddle over gravel roads. Would be interested in knowing how much weight you carried in each pannier and a peek at your gear list.
    Bike boxes from Virgin and Qantas are larger than the bike manufacturers boxes but Jetstar @ Perth Airport would not let me travel with a box weighing more than 30kg.
    You must have had long days to cover so much territory. Did you start early and have a break in the middle of the day or just keep going? It is probably easier with someone to talk to as well – even if it is just a whinge about head wind or dust. I find that an eight hour day in the saddle is hard by myself.
    The lack of water is a worry and highlights the need to plan for such an occurrence. I would sympathise with you about shops being shut on weekends and public holidays but you sandgropers keep resisting change. Come east and experience easy shopping and daylight saving (:-)}
    [And Dockers beat Geelong ! Who would've thunk it?]

  6. Darryl Chrisp April 12, 2010 at 8:13 AM #

    @Andrew: Great ride and great report. Those were big days in the saddle over gravel roads. Would be interested in knowing how much weight you carried in each pannier and a peek at your gear list.
    Bike boxes from Virgin and Qantas are larger than the bike manufacturers boxes but Jetstar @ Perth Airport would not let me travel with a box weighing more than 30kg.
    You must have had long days to cover so much territory. Did you start early and have a break in the middle of the day or just keep going? It is probably easier with someone to talk to as well – even if it is just a whinge about head wind or dust. I find that an eight hour day in the saddle is hard by myself.
    The lack of water is a worry and highlights the need to plan for such an occurrence. I would sympathise with you about shops being shut on weekends and public holidays but you sandgropers keep resisting change. Come east and experience easy shopping and daylight saving (:-)}
    [And Dockers beat Geelong ! Who would've thunk it?]

  7. jet April 12, 2010 at 2:27 AM #

    Deregulated shopping hours would have no impact on the opening hours of those shops out in the country, as the current regulations do not apply to them! In short, even if WA did deregulate shopping hours, those shops would still be closed. They are small businesses and the owners need holidays too!

  8. jet April 12, 2010 at 10:27 AM #

    Deregulated shopping hours would have no impact on the opening hours of those shops out in the country, as the current regulations do not apply to them! In short, even if WA did deregulate shopping hours, those shops would still be closed. They are small businesses and the owners need holidays too!

  9. Aushiker April 12, 2010 at 4:11 AM #

    Hi Darryl

    Gear list is being finalised and should be posted later this week. If you email me at andrew@aushiker.com I can send you the Excel spreadsheet in the mean time. In terms of weight distribution I kept the front light, carrying only my sleeping gear and clothes in the front panniers. Not sure of the actual weight per pannier.

    Stuart approached Qantas for a bike box but because he was not flying Qantas they wouldn’t let him have one!

    I did get caught out a bit with the shops. I am used to the south-west of WA where the shops are open seven days a week.

    Andrew

  10. Aushiker April 12, 2010 at 12:11 PM #

    Hi Darryl

    Gear list is being finalised and should be posted later this week. If you email me at andrew@aushiker.com I can send you the Excel spreadsheet in the mean time. In terms of weight distribution I kept the front light, carrying only my sleeping gear and clothes in the front panniers. Not sure of the actual weight per pannier.

    Stuart approached Qantas for a bike box but because he was not flying Qantas they wouldn’t let him have one!

    I did get caught out a bit with the shops. I am used to the south-west of WA where the shops are open seven days a week.

    Andrew

  11. Aushiker April 12, 2010 at 4:14 AM #

    Hi Sis.

    Thanks for your comments. NZ has hills :) Average riding time each day was just over 7 hours + stop time (didn’t measure this). After the first couple of days we got up at 5:00 AM and where generally on the road by 6:30 to 7:00 AM. The riding was much better in the cool and quiet of the morning.

    Lov
    Andrew

  12. Aushiker April 12, 2010 at 12:14 PM #

    Hi Sis.

    Thanks for your comments. NZ has hills :) Average riding time each day was just over 7 hours + stop time (didn’t measure this). After the first couple of days we got up at 5:00 AM and where generally on the road by 6:30 to 7:00 AM. The riding was much better in the cool and quiet of the morning.

    Lov
    Andrew

  13. craig April 17, 2010 at 9:58 AM #

    Great write up and looks like a great ride, well done mate. Seems the Surly did you proud

  14. craig April 17, 2010 at 5:58 PM #

    Great write up and looks like a great ride, well done mate. Seems the Surly did you proud

  15. Leighton April 17, 2010 at 10:20 AM #

    Sounds like a good ride. Out of curiosity with respect to “the rear derailleur not selecting a key gear when used in index mode” – was this basically the shifter losing the indexing click at 5th or 6th gear? If so that would be about the 5th time I’ve heard of these indexed shifters failing in the same way – it’s happened twice to me and twice to a mate of mine. I’m not bothering getting another replacement, I’ve just switched to friction shifting – given my reason for getting them was supposedly reliability, I’m seriously considering switching to brifters – if they fail it’s more serious but my experience is that they fail less ;)

    • Aushiker April 17, 2010 at 10:27 AM #

      Hi. Yes the indexing problem is with the middle gears in the cluster as you suggest. I switched to frictionless and actually haven’t bothered to go back as yet.

  16. Leighton April 17, 2010 at 6:20 PM #

    Sounds like a good ride. Out of curiosity with respect to “the rear derailleur not selecting a key gear when used in index mode” – was this basically the shifter losing the indexing click at 5th or 6th gear? If so that would be about the 5th time I’ve heard of these indexed shifters failing in the same way – it’s happened twice to me and twice to a mate of mine. I’m not bothering getting another replacement, I’ve just switched to friction shifting – given my reason for getting them was supposedly reliability, I’m seriously considering switching to brifters – if they fail it’s more serious but my experience is that they fail less ;)

    • Aushiker April 17, 2010 at 6:27 PM #

      Hi. Yes the indexing problem is with the middle gears in the cluster as you suggest. I switched to frictionless and actually haven’t bothered to go back as yet.

  17. RonK August 3, 2010 at 7:38 AM #

    Coincidentally, I was researching this route only a few weeks ago, while brainstorming future tours. I’m off to NZ this year, but have Adelaide – Melbourne, Perth – Adelaide and a tour of the WA south in mind.

    I thought Norseman via Hyden might be a good alternative route to the Great Eastern Hwy for a Nullabor crossing, or a circuit from Perth around the coast and returning through Corrigin.

    It was very difficult to find information about the Norseman – Hyden stretch, other than it is gravel and a warning that it was heavily used by trucks.

    What I really wanted no know was about the availability of water. Since you comment that there is no water available on this stretch I’d be interested to know how much you carried for the 3 day crossing.

  18. Aushiker August 3, 2010 at 12:34 PM #

    Hi RonK

    IIRC it was around 12 to 15 litres. As a rule I work on 3 litres for overnight plus what I would normally drink over the day. So for this section it was two nights plus three days water.

    How much I drink during the day really depends on the weather conditions at the time.

    I used cool drink bottles to carry the water but others used MSR bladders or the like.

    Regards
    Andrew

    • RonK August 5, 2010 at 8:29 AM #

      Andrew,

      Thanks for the information, that is a lot of water on top of your normal load – actually, it’s the maximum load that I want to carry, so I think I’ll give that route a miss.

      Besides, I’ve already seen Wave Rock – loved the Hippo’s Yawn.

      Cheers,

      RonK

  19. melbourne chauffeur service October 23, 2010 at 9:57 AM #

    Wow!
    Great ride. You have nice post when I read your post then I feel its more interesting.

  20. AH June 18, 2014 at 8:12 PM #

    we did Perth to Esperance mainly keeping off the bitumen road and therefore away from road trains and other traffic. We used the service tracks alongside the both the railway line and the water pipeline that run parallel to Great Eastern Hwy to Norseman. Actually we only got to Widgiemooltha and then got overtaken by weather so had to catch the bus to Esperance. However, the service tracks work well, easy to find and never far from the main road but far enough to make it feel like you are in the bush, able to enjoy the landscape and scenery. Best time of year is September, rain is gone and lots of wildflowers.

    • Aushiker June 18, 2014 at 9:45 PM #

      Thanks AH for an alternative and by all accounts better way to tackle a fair of the Great Eastern Highway to Kalgoorlie. I had forgotten about the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail and the opportunity it provides for cyclists so thanks for sharing your experience.

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