week 17...
beyond the
songline

Leaving the Kimberley

What other cheer would bring a smile to this happy bunch? This is Damien Loomoo, Anthony Midji, David Tax, Lawrence Lulu, Darren Dede, Michael Galord and Abraham Baadjo, all the way from Billiluna, the middle of the Great Sandy Desert.

"Autograph! Autograph!" one yelled. Being crowned 'The Tandem Two' by the Australian media, we naturally assumed they wanted ours. On the contrary, they each wanted to write their names in our address book. Another pointed at our Canadian flag and said, "Canada? My dream. One day, I wish to go there." Then they all posed, standing around their beat-up old Holden with no rear windscreen that all seven of them managed to fit into, and shouted, "Aboriginal Australia!" A Kodak moment.

So, do us a favour. Wherever you're from, run down to your local town giftshop, buy a postcard and send it to one of the boys above. Billiluna, WA, Australia. It's a small town. They'll love it.
the kimberley: a word of warning
They'll tell you you'll roast from the heat. They'll tell you you'll dehydrate from the emptiness, if you're not washed away by the flash floods first. They'll tell you you'll be eaten by crocodiles, be poisoned by snakes, or be beaten and robbed by the locals.


Don't believe a word of it.

We've just left the Kimberley, one of the most misrepresented and misunderstood regions of outback Australia. Truly the road less travelled by, the road from Katherine to Broome was sold to us as the harshest, meanest and most dangerous road in Australia. And why not? It's so much less travelled, there aren't enough people to tell you otherwise.

Well, if no one else has good things to say about it, then we will! We loved it! The Kimberley was a gorgeous, grand, welcoming expanse of highway. The scenery was stunning. For anyone in a vehicle, the road is simply 300km of emptiness, then a town, then another 300km, and so on until Broome, but how often did we stop to take a photo and think: the only reason this place isn't flooded with tourists is because it doesn't have a signpost out front. Slow down. There's plenty to see.

We were nervous when we arrived in the few towns of the area: Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing. Toughest towns in Australia, they warned. Ignore them. Sure, they're a little run down, they're a little dusty, and the centre of attention is the local pub, but the people...

We love the people! Especially the kids. Friendly, forward, never afraid to ask a question. Usually our first 15 minutes arriving anywhere was met with a swarm of children, wanting rides, wanting to know where we're going, or how to steer. The adults would follow with more questions.

In the populated areas of Australia, if we told people what we were up to or where we were headed, they'd tell us we were crazy, and warn us about the upcoming areas. One odd thing we noticed, and enjoyed, was that here in the Kimberley, the locals ask, "Where ya going, around Australia?" as if it were the most common thing in the world. No warnings, no worries, just a handshake and a Good-on-ya. Such a refreshing, open attitude.

Such a refreshing, open country. The Kimberley is worth the drive. Next time you're looking for a holiday, ignore the rumours. Decide for yourself. As they say in the travel magazines, you'll never never know if you never never go.
these are the people in our neighbourhood...

Clare
Clare's always smiling, and not much can get to her... except for two things: if she's had to deal with garbage at the travel agency, or there's a cockroach in her house... Then it's all business! Thanks for a few good nights' sleeps!
Kamahl
If you want to know anything about fishing or gardening, Kamahl's your man. He'll hook you up with Barramundi or mulch, your choice. (We had a great pic of his fishing sunburn, but the camera ate it!)
Broome Addy Journalist
Thanks for the fun interview! If we were better journalists ourselves, we wouldn't have forgotten your name! Eep! Sorry!
Peter
Peter has riden his bike all around Australia, and now he's thinking of riding from Vancouver to Anchorage! We understand his need for a chillier environment. Don't forget your Staminade!


Contest!   Contest!   Contest!


It's not our Brush with Death... it's Yours.
For months you've been reading about the close calls we've had in Australia. We've lived through encounters with spiders, dingoes and even lizards with (gasp) blue tongues!

But after that failed snake-drill we tested on Saturday, we realized that perhaps we don't have too many lives left, which leaves us very little time to hear your stories. Almost have a car fall on you while changing a tire? Did your buckle come undone halfway through Space Mountain? Did you get a paper cut from a salt packet?

Tell us and we'll share your traumatic event with the world. Think of it as cheap therapy.

Tell us your Brush With Death!


wally's amazin' facts!
Who needs pearls when you've got plastic? Yup, it was the plastic button that nearly ruined the pearling industry in Broome. Suddenly those mother-of-pearl buttons that were all the rage at the turn of the century weren't in demand anymore! But thanks to Wilma Flintstone and her influences in the upper echelon, pearl necklaces came back in fashion. Thanks Wilma!

This Week's Amazin' Fact: You've all seen and heard the didjeridoo, but do you know how one is made? You might think it's made from any old stick, painstakingly hollowed out with a blade... but NO! Termites do the work for you! All you need to find is a termite-munched gum tree, seal the ends, and use spinifex to paint it. Now just put your lips together and blow! Toooooboi-oi-oi-oing!

Boi-oi-oing! Boi-oi-oing! Hey, that reminds me... Do you know what the word kangaroo means in Aboriginal language? If you said what I think you said, you're absolutely right! See you next week!

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!
Distance this week: 248kmDistance since Day 1: 5801km

What is Bikeabout? Click here to find out!

Day 114: I Come In Peace
Distance Travelled: 4.2km Temperature: 39
Time on Trikes: 45min Water Left: 6.0L
Terrain: Nice bike path
End Location: Clare & Kamahl's
pearl whirl
Just because we happen to be riding touring bikes doesn't mean that we're doing a lot of touring. Out here, if you want to go where the guidebooks recommend, you've got to be willing to get off the highway and take your 4WD through the muck for a couple of hours. While we're not against getting a little muck on the ol' bikes, we know as well as they do that they're not off-roading machines (Don't believe us? Just read Day 8).
   So for the past three months, we've felt more like endurance athletes than we have tourists. Maybe that's why we got such a thrill out of parking the bikes and 'touring' the sites of Broome today. There was a cruise ship in town and we blended right in with the busloads of loud-shirted, wrap-around-sunglass-wearing pensioners as we all searched for what Broome had to offer. Broome had pearls to offer. Oodles and oodles of pearls.
   So, after we had visited about six nearly identical pearl showrooms, we retreated back to our usual persona of stinky endurance cyclists. It was nice while it lasted though. Sigh. Maybe next trip it's time for cruise.beimers.com.

"That's the first time I've been able to smell your stink overpowering my stink."
- Kevin.
Day 115: Someday my prints will come...
Distance Travelled: 8.5km Temperature: 38
Time on Trikes: 1.5h Water Left: 6.0L
Terrain: Nice traffic
End Location: Clare & Kamahl's
hassletown
This town is not laid out the way we want it to be. If we had our way, Clare and Kamahl would live between a supermarket and a swimming pool. Each street corner would have a Coke machine, an air conditioner, and a stickydate pudding vendor. Internet would be free, and so would the movie theatre (located across the street).
   But that's not the way it is with Broome (or anywhere for that matter). Broome is one of those small, sprawling towns where everyone needs a car to get around. This doesn't make it very easy on a couple of errand-running expeditioners who are trying to minimize their work time and maximize their relaxation time. Sigh.
   On the other hand...can you believe that we've ridden our bikes 6000 kilometres to get here, and now we're whinging about having to ride five to get groceries? Everything's relative.

"I reckon they should kill anyone who's never f@#kin' landed a sailfish. That's what all the f@#kin' problems in this world stem from, f@#kin', sailfish withdrawal."
- Kamahl's neighbour.
Day 116: Now with sandflies!
Distance Travelled: 8.1km Temperature: 35
Time on Trikes: 1.5h Water Left: 6.0L
Terrain: Dark!
End Location: Clare & Kamahl's
no fun in the sun
Sun Pictures is an Australian institution. In it's own words, it's the 'World's Oldest Open Air Movie Theatre'. Could there be nothing more romantic than sitting under the stars in multi-hued deck chairs, watching an old black and white with your one true love? This was exactly what we had planned, except we were going to substitute the old movie for the latest installment of Lord of the Rings and the romance for a jumbo tub of popcorn. Our lives are already filled with romance, but we don't get popcorn very often.
   "Now hang on," Kevin hypothesized on our way to the film, "Why the frickin' frack are we paying to go see a movie outside when we spend 99% of our lives outside? And why the frickin' frack are we paying to sit in a sling back chair when our bikes have sling back chairs? And why the frick frickity frackin' frick frack would I want to get eaten by sandflies, sweat my ass off, and have the occasional plane fly overhead to ruin the only movie I've seen in the past two months?" Quick, Batman! To the newly built (and indoor) Sun Cinemas! Now that's worth my 13 dollars!

"I look like Anne Frank."
- Aimee.
Day 117: Where's Ronald?
Distance Travelled: 35.8km Temperature: 32
Time on Trikes: 4.0h Water Left: 8.5L
Terrain: Slow climb
End Location: Gravel Pit
if they build it
"They've got a McDonald's now in Broome." "Yeah, can't wait to go to the McDonald's." "I hear that McDonald's is opening up any day now." Across the Outback and through the Kimberley, the word on the highway is that there is a brand spankin' new McD's in Broome. The only McDonald's between Perth and Darwin. What is it about a fast food chain that gets people so excited? Is it the food? Is it the service? I don't think so.
   I think that having a McDonald's in your town is a sign of civilization. Almost a status symbol that your town has reached a level of commercialism deemed acceptable by the McDonald's Corporation. Especially in the sparser parts of Australia, to see a McDonald's is to recognize a form of normalcy. You know what to expect when you walk inside and you know that if there's a McDonald's then you must no longer be in the middle of nowhere. Welcome to McDonald's. You're somewhere.
   Needless to say, Broome is anywhere between somewhere and nowhere because the McDonald's wasn't finished by the time we left. But we've heard that there might be a new one in South Hedland...

"Maybe that's just how they breed 'em in Broome."
- Kevin.
Day 118: Consider Us Rehabilitated
Distance Travelled: 77.6km Temperature: 34
Time on Trikes: 11h Water Left: 14L
Terrain: Long low grades
End Location: Thangoo
out of time
Help us! Oh goodness gracious me, people of 21st century Earth, you must help us! Lester Wu is still missing in 2102, Rosita Alvarez was just murdered right before our eyes in Prague in 1969, during the darkest day in Czechoslovakian history, and no one can do anything about it but Aimee, me, and Jackson Dubchek! We're the only ones who know what Senator Voxner and Praetor Centurion Colonel Brelmer are up to... they're changing the past to profit in the future!
   But what in Bhudda's name can you do about it? It all begins with a book called Time Police, purchased for 50 cents at the Salvation Army, which Aimee and I just finished reading aloud on the bikes. As we approached the last chapter, we both had that eerie feeling that not all could be resolved in the few pages remaining. We were right. It was simply Volume 1. Damn you, Warren Norwood!
   So, we're sending out an all call. Look around in any cheap book store, yard sale, antique shop, fund raiser, corner market or dumpster, and keep your eyes open for Time Police: Volume 2 by Warren Norwood. Should you find it, mail it to:
Kevin Beimers & Amelia Lingman
c/o Perth GPO
Perth, WA
Australia.
And hurry! We need it... well... yesterday.

"Lights. Wind. Oranges. Swirling. Nothing. Everything. Ammonia. Spinning. Nausea. Lurching. Flashing. Vomit. Infinity. Noise. Emptiness..."
- Excerpt from Time Police.
Day 119: Dramatization
Distance Travelled: 53.3km Temperature: 37
Time on Trikes: 7.5h Water Left: 13L
Terrain: More long grades
End Location: Rest Stop, PH490
drilled to pieces
You've got fire drills, earthquake drills, Russian atomic attack drills, and maybe even volcano drills if you live near Pompeii. We've got snake drills. They go like this: Kev yells "Snake!" and we're supposed to put our feet up on the luggage racks and glide smoothly past the menance to safety. A fine contingency plan on paper, but like all other drills ever invented by mankind, it fails miserably when put into action.
   Running over a snake is one of our biggest fears, since I don't think a big snake would take too kindly to being cut (squashed) in half by a dull tire, and chances are good that it wouldn't be killed instantly. I have visions of being bitten in the bare ankle by a half-dead half-snake. Thus the reason for the drill - to make us feel better, and falsely safe.
   This evening, in the moonlight, we came within inches of a snake that could have bitten my ankle clean off and had room for a couple of toes. And what did we do when Kevin yelled "Snake!"? We sped up like there was no tomorrow. Then we stopped and turned around to watch him cross the road. We gave up our snake drill and now we're relying on the only drill that has stood the test of time: gut instinct and snap judgements. Seemed to work last time.
Kevin: "What are you thinking about right this second?"
Aimee: "Umm, the number 12, I guess."
Kevin: "I was thinking about Oompa Loompas."
Day 120: Adventure Tours My Ass
Distance Travelled: 60.1km Temperature: 39
Time on Trikes: 11h Water Left: 13L
Terrain: Windy until dark
End Location: Stanley Rest Stop
pedal envy
Is hasn't happened in a while, since few tour companys would risk taking their tours through the Kimberley in the Wet, but we love it when it does happen: an adventure tour bus pulls up at the rest area where we've stopped for the day. They're always named 'Aussie Escapes' or 'Outback Walkabout' or 'Expeditious Jungle Wanderers' or anything guaranteed to give a sense of pure, primal regression, at least moreso than "Greyhound". These buses usually carry around twelve people and have all the requirements to keep everyone happy and healthy: air conditioning, ice, and more air conditioning.
   It's almost a mutual envy when the bus pulls up. We see how much luxury they've got, and think how nice it would be to have ourselves escorted around the country (just like cruise.beimers.com). They look at us and think, boy, and I thought I was on an adventure. Then they stand downwind of us and thank their lucky stars.
   "Hey, can I sit on your bikes and take a picture?"
   "Sure, if I can sit on your bus and have a nap."

"Hah! Saw those bike and the tent, knew you'd be Canadian."
- Greg, tour guide.
as: (sl.) the unfinished Australian simile. Our bikes aren't cool; they're "Cool as!" Kevin's not skinny; he's "Skinny as!" Skinny as what? Skinny as anything you could think of, so it's best to leave the sentence unfinished.
"We're cycling all the way around Australia." "Wow! Awesome as!"


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