week 20...
animal rights

Enduring the Pilbara

Can I just say: Isn't this the most Australian photograph you've ever seen? A kangaroo in a pub. The only thing missing is Paul Hogan.
c'arn the mighty roos!
We've been in this country for almost a year, and we've yet to chat about the infamous, the symbolic, the omnipresent... kangaroo. I'll bet you Aussie readers are pleasantly surprised, since any American editorial during the 2000 Olympics had something to do with roos, barbies, or how bad vegemite really is.

Now, how can you not love a kangaroo? For that matter, how can you not love any animal that travels by bouncing?

Well, I suppose you don't have to love them if they're a pest. To Aussie farmers, truck drivers, and the like, they're definitely pests (and probably vice versa as well). There's millions of them, definitely more roos than people in the country. But, if you're going to have a pest, it might as well bounce, and be super cute! Better than a country overrun by rats, or cockroaches, or fat ugly dumb lizards.

Speaking of which, isn't this one of the ugliest animals you've ever seen? I was going to say ugliest lizards, but his ugliness far transcends reptilian boundaries. He's dumb and slow too. His only defence mechanism appears to be the evil eye. You won't see him on Steve Irwin.

Anyway, back to the kangaroo. They're a regal and noble creature, and they're all over the Pilbara. In fact, the Pilbara may be the only place in Australia where we've seen more cute, adorable, cuddly, live kangaroos than flat, smelly, decomposing, dead kangaroos. They must breed 'em smarter up here. And cuddlier!

By the way, they're tasty too!
On a Whim:
Established: 1886
Owners: The Rengels
Staff Members: 4
Special: Barraburger
Colour: Pink
Pets: Rocko (dog), Lachy & Bud (roos), Agro (goanna), Olive (10ft python), Birds

On a Wind:
Cyclone: Johnny
Category: Five
Date: Dec 15/99
Deaths: None

meet michael tozer
Pub manager, diplomat, survivor of Cyclone Johnny. Is there anything Michael hasn't done?

So what does a category five cyclone feel like? Hah! Dunno, really. I was in Perth at the time.

You weren't here? Nope. I got a phonecall after it was all over. I was on a plane that afternoon to come back up. On the drive from Port Hedland to here, every roadsign for 20km around was blown over.

And what did it look like when you arrived?
Chaos. It looked like a scud-bloody-missle had gone off. Stuff was thrown everywhere, the roof was ripped off... pebbles were blown through the corrugated metal, see those holes there? Just a shambles.

How long did it take you to get back up and running? Within three months, we could service fuel again, and the hotel and bar was back up. We're still working on the damages; it's cost about 1.8 million to get it back up to what it is now.

It looks as good as new now! Yeah, lots of people stop in here. It's a great spot for fishing: trawling and prawning and mudcrabbing. We've been doing tours out here for years.

One more thing... why pink? Sale on pink paint, mate. Why not?
these are the people in our neighbourhood...

St. Cecilia's Year 4 & 6
Crazy kids! Sean (you met him last week) invited us to talk to his students on the first day of classes. Looks like someone got out of doing first-day lesson plans! Check out what happened on Monday.
Tim Scarrott
Tim knows what growing cyclists need. He's the St. John's Ambulance man around here at the local mines, and they always send him home with goodies. He passed some onto us! Thanks for the fresh fruit, Tim!
Karrissa, Rowan & Damien
Boy, when's the last time we saw a teenager? I mean, other than a half asleep are-we-there-yet teenager in a campervan? It's been a while. These three were friendly, cheerful, and inquisitive. There's hope for Australia's future yet!
That Fat Stupid Lizard
Hahahah! He's so fat and dumb looking! I poked him with a stick and he didn't even have the sense to move! It's amazing what loopholes you occasionally find in the natural selection process. Good thing there's not much traffic here.
wally's amazin' facts!
Port Hedland's salt stores can hold up to 550,000 tonnes of salt! Most of it, 96%, is used for industrial purposes, but who knows? Some of the other 4% could end up on your kitchen table!

This Week's Amazin' Fact: The Pilbara is the world's largest shire, stretching out to around 500,000 square kilometres. That's bigger than every single shire in England put together! It's practically a country! Too bad London gets more rain in an afternoon than the Pilbara has in a year! This year is the driest wet season in 120 years! The Whim Creek Pub (that's been around since 1886) doesn't even remember a season this dry!

By the way, when you're out here sweating in the blazing hot sun all day, the last thing you want to do is dry up like a crusty old sultana. What's the best way to know if you're getting enough water?

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!
Distance this week: 327kmDistance since Day 1: 6595km

What is Bikeabout? Click here to find out!

Day 135: Kiddin' Around
Distance Travelled: 59.1km Temperature: 39
Time on Trikes: 7.5h Water Left: 12L
Terrain: Fight to escape
End Location: Side of the road
li'l saints
After Sean (a.k.a. Mr. Sta Maria) let us spend a couple nights at his place, the least we could do was alleviate his afternoon workload and take over his classroom. Right after lunch, we showed up in the schoolyard of St. Cecilia's amid a flurry of stares and points and whoa-what-is-thats, ready to begin our first Western Australia press conference...
   Though the questions didn't quite get as crazy as they did with Mr. Clough's class in Horsham, who seemed to have a fixation with bears and tornadoes, the afternoon unexpectedly did take a turn for the silly. When asked what we did to stop from getting bored, we mentioned that we read books, played word association games, and... sang. Well, that did it. The kids wanted to hear us sing.
   So we made them a deal. At the end of the talk, we asked them questions, and those who got them right got to try riding the bikes with Kev, but only if they could sing a song at the same time. By the way, does anyone know what this Ketchup Song is? I've never heard of it. Maybe I've been away too long.
   Thanks for the fun time, kids! Sorry to the girl Kev ran into the pillar!

"I always imagine I'm eating crushed sea monkeys."
- Aimee.
Day 136: Trapped!
Distance Travelled: 53.4km Temperature: 38
Time on Trikes: 8.0h Water Left: 11L
Terrain: Flat
End Location: Whim Creek
yule hate it!
This is it. This is the spot. The night of the nasty Tropical Low grabbed the road to Karratha by the short and curlies and yanked with all its might. And this is the result.
   The washout was only about 500 metres long, but it's not like our bikes have Turbo Boost on them. The bypass road, a little wiggly gravel thing to the left, had to wait until the inland water went down, and they could pass some heavy machinery over the ravine. I suppose if we had to, we could have driven over there, and asked a bulldozer to carry us over in the shovel, but what would be the adventure in that? Not nearly as death defying as spending the week in downtown Port.
   Why couldn't have we been stuck in Broome? I could have spent an extra 6 days in Cable Beach. Better than waking up every morning to the picturesque views of the giant pile of salt and iron ore deposits. Ah well, we got to ride on a tug, meet a bunch of happy teachers, and decide beyond a shadow of a doubt that Port Hedland is not the place we want to end up when we retire.

"Ahh... there's nothing quite like biking in your underpants."
- Kevin.
Day 137: Warm Welcome
Distance Travelled: 39.1km Temperature: 39
Time on Trikes: 5.0h Water Left: 9.0L
Terrain: Flat
End Location: Sherlock River
whim wonderland
If you ever find yourself between Karratha and Port Hedland, be sure to pop in to the Whim Creek Pub. It's the happiest, friendliest, and pinkest pub in all of Australia!
   For starters, Michael bought us a coffee each, and introduced us to all the animals hopping around inside the pub. We ate the best Barraburger this side of Nellyville, and were treated to ice water all day long. They even let us sit in the air conditioned meeting area to work on the website. And to top it off, camping is free to everyone! Power included!
   So stop in, and tell 'em we said hi!

"Hey! A jaw!"
- Kevin.
Day 138: No Silt, Sherlock
Distance Travelled: 48.7km Temperature: 35
Time on Trikes: 6.5h Water Left: 9.0L
Terrain: Windy
End Location: Near Roebourne
soak if you got it
When every day is over 30 degrees, you've got to take anything that'll cool you down as a gift. In this case, it was a puddle of knee deep water under the Sherlock River bridge. Cool, clear, and clean (well, actually, none of the above) nothing beats a soak in the tub.
  All I need now is a Margarita with a little umbrella in it, and it'll be just like when we were at Club Med!
Kevin: "Pig's skin is closest to human skin. No fur. I learned that on CSI."
Aimee: "So, could you, like, make cracklin out of people?"
Day 139: Decisions, Decisions...
Distance Travelled: 56.2km Temperature: 38
Time on Trikes: 7.5h Water Left: 16L
Terrain: Easy to turnoff, Hard to Karratha
End Location: Stovehill Rd
'bourne loser
Take a look at the two pictures to the right. Which one would you rather spend a day in? I mean, if the choice was between the top one and sitting under a tree in the middle of the scrub, I'd still be hesitant. But, when you compare run-down Roebourne to brand-name Karratha... there's no contest.
   Roebourne was so nasty, we decided at 10:30, with the temperature at 33 degrees already, that it was worth it to knock out the extra 35km in the heat of the day than stay in Roebourne. Now that's bad.
Kevin: "Usually all we need is some shade and we're happy, like a tree and a bench, but when we got to Roebourne..."
Mike: "All the good spots were taken?"
Day 140: Eep! Admission was HOW MUCH?
Distance Travelled: 17.3km Temperature: 37
Time on Trikes: 1.5h Water Left: 14L
Terrain: Friendly
End Location: Karratha Turnoff
movie night!
We went to two films today... two films! Aren't we lucky? We must be suffering from withdrawal. Here's what we thought of the latest and greatest in action and comedy...

Die Another Day: As far as action sequences go, the film gets a 10 out of 10. However, as far as dialogue, supervillian scariness, explanations of political rivals, inventiveness of Q's gadgets, sexual innuendos, Madonna's theme song and cameo, Halle Barry's oscar-winning acting ability, plot, consistancy and flow, I'm afraid it didn't even bump the needle. Good thing I enjoy a good action sequence.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Normally we have a policy... if it doesn't have big sound and special effects, we don't need to pay $10 each to see in at the theatre. But, since we don't have any means of renting movies anymore, we went to see a romantic comedy. And you know, we really enjoyed it. Well written, well crafted, smart, funny, satisfying. Great characters, too. I love any movie with the dude from Northern Exposure in it.

"I'm off to see if there's any discount cheese."
- Aimee.
Day 141: Sigh...
Distance Travelled: 53.2km Temperature: 40
Time on Trikes: 7.5h Water Left: 11L
Terrain: Flat but slow
End Location: Scrubby Spot
back to business
Another day, another roadhouse. Have I used that as an opening sentence before? Enh, probably. It does get a little tedious after a while, though.
   Get to the roadhouse by 10am, sneak around for a place to plug in the laptop, feel obligated to buy something since you're staying there all day, even though it's three times the price as at the Wooley's you just left last night... sigh. Some things never change. I can't wait until the day I can bike straight past a gas station without stopping.

"That's the second book I've finished in two days that's ended abruptly."
- Kevin.
donkey: (n.) a drum filled with water with a firepit underneath for the purposes of having a hot shower. We first heard the term back in Queensland, when someone told us there were showers available at a spot, but you had to "light the donkey". We didn't stay there.


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