week 24...
back to reality

Northampton to Geraldton

Say what you will about us, but we sure clean up nicely.

After over 20 long weeks of dry, dusty desolation, we prepare to re-enter civilization. This, to us, means two major changes: (1) We're no longer allowed to wear our grease stained pyjama bottoms and ratty brown t-shirts for a solid week without occasionally peeling them off like a second skin as we've grown accustomed to doing, and (2) We can pretty much get milk whenever we want it.

So, we got some new, shiny clothes, brushed our hair, and prepared ourselves for our first city on the edge of even more cities. Our gateway was Geraldton. Now, which way to the Hungry Jack's?
Being Frank:
Nationality: Czech
Moved to Oz: 1950
Raised: Geraldton

B&B: Champion Bay
Partner: Sue
Son: Frankie Jr.
Dog: Max
Cat: Woozy

Neato Coincidence: Kevin's parents are named Frank and Sue too!

ask a bed & brekky host
This is Frank, the owner and host of the Champion Bay Bed & Breakfast. And what a host! Ask this man about anything or anybody in Geraldton, and he'll tell you all you need to know (and usually more)!

What do you love about Geraldton? Aw, mate, I've lived here all my life, how can I not love it? It's got a lot of history, lots to do, it's big enough to have the conveniences of the city, but still small enough to know everybody.

If I only had one day spend here, what should I see? Well, the cray and lobster industry is the biggest thing here. Definitely check out the cray factory tour: Brolos has one every weekday at 9:30, where you watch the boats come in, and the sorting, the freezing, the packing... fascinating stuff!

What else is there? There's the HMAS Sydney Memorial just up here on the hill. It's a beautiful dedication to the 645 men from the Sydney who lost their lives during WWII. It's one of the

first things you see of Geraldton when you're approaching by boat. Then there's the Aquarena, a huge water sports centre, the old train station, the heritage museum, the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral... Geraldton's got heaps to see!

What was it like growing up here? Aw, haha, I remember once, me and me mate, see, every year the mud crabs start moving on the beach and you can just run down and pick up a whole bunch, so me and me mate filled up this bloke's car with them one night... wait, you're gonna put this on your website, aren't ya?

What do you like most about hosting a B&B? I love the people. I love talking to people and making them feel welcome in the city so they'll come back again. See, most of the folks from Perth driving up might just skip over us, since they can make it to Kalbarri in another hour, but if we could just get them to stop in Gerro for a night, they'd see what a great place it is for tourists.
these are the people in our neighbourhood...

Mark's the man from the MidWest Times. He's a hard hitting reporter who won't stop until he gets all the facts. All the facts except OUR WEBSITE! His article mentioned all the great things we were doing, and how many people were watching the site, but, sadly, no website. Sigh. Maybe next time around.
The Geraldton Guardian dispatched Nick later that morning. Best described as "quirky", Nick took in every detail and nuance of our conversation and decided that the best angle to an article about inspirational Canadian explorers was "Big Kev Sheds 25kg In Cycling Trip". I suppose that's something to cheer about!
Terry & Trish
Frank felt that Terry and we would have heaps to talk about, since we were both Canadian. Well, we all talked heaps, that's for sure. Long into the night, after takeaway Thai and a few cartons of Cascade (that's Tazzy beer, not dishsoap), we learned everything, and I mean everything, about these lucky canucks!
Roy & Marg
A couple of Poms spending a few weeks on the West Coast before heading home to London. By the end of the week, they'd seen all there was to see, and were considering shipping off to Kuala Lumpur to pick up some cheap electronics before flying home. He loves a good curry, she loves grapes with the seeds in them!
Hail to the Chief! Vicki's the Mayor of Geraldton, and also the owner of Boss Transport Company. After our little spill on Saturday (which you'll read about on Sunday), she threw us a swell party and invited us over the next day to buzz out a new hitch! I'd vote for you, Vicki!
Bet you never thought you'd see The First Gentleman of Geraldton in coveralls, working the lathe, did ya? Scott is Vicki's husband over at Boss Transport. He couldn't find a new hitch for us, so he made a fresh one! How's that for service? If we see your trucks, we'll wave!
wally's amazin' facts!
Last week, we were talking about the oldest form of living organism in the world. Stromatolites can be found in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. How old are they? Hey, don't ask me, I'm just a wombat.

This Week's Amazin' Fact: Did you know that when lobsters and crays are slowly frozen, their body processes shut down temporarily? They go into suspended animation! That's how lobsters are able to be caught down here in Geraldton, then shipped alive to Asia! Wow! That means lobsters are better suited than humans for deep space exploration! Three... two... one... Liftoff! Lobsters away!

Speaking of space, Western Australia sure takes up a lot of it. I mean, we got to Kununurra before Christmas, now here it is almost St. Patrick's day and we're still here! How big is WA anyway?

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!

Only in Australia.
Distance this week: 146kmDistance since Day 1: 7733km

What is Bikeabout? Click here to find out!

Day 163: Nothin' But!
Distance Travelled: 68.4km Temperature: 33
Time on Trikes: 9.5h Water Left: 14L
Terrain: Hills are getting larger
End Location: 15km from Northampton
he's got hutts
We first heard about Prince Leonard back in Whim Creek when we met Michael Tozer. Michael is a diplomat for the Hutt River Province, and the Whim Creek Pub is an embassy-- wait a minute, slow down. Prince Who? The What River Province? Perhaps we'd better start from the beginning...
   In 1970, a farmer and wife were tired of being taxed to pieces by the tyrannical Australian government, who ruled with an iron fist. So, he seceded from the country, forming his own principality, dubbed "The Hutt River Province". Over the years Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley produced their own money, their own passports, their own post office with their own postage stamps. Hutt River Province has a state seal, has embassies in eight countries, is recognized by the UN, and the two of them have had tea with the Queen on occasion. They've also, being a landlocked country, applied for sea rights, but the paperwork is still pending.
   One can actually go out and visit the royal family on your way through to Kalbarri, and get your passport stamped. We couldn't, though. The only way in to the princedom is through a dirt road, and our passports are down in Perth at the moment. Besides, the Prince was too busy. It's sheep shearing season, you know.

"Once its in my tummy I can't taste it anymore."
- Aimee.
Day 164: Gail Force
Distance Travelled: 15.9km Temperature: 31
Time on Trikes: 2.0h Water Left: 3.5L
Terrain: Downhill all the way!
End Location: Canada Goose B&B
claimed for canada
Just a small country town, say they. Don't know if there's even a general store, say them. It's obvious that the people who filled us in on Northampton haven't spent the past five months eating burgers in Roadhouses. If they had, they would have realized that to our weary eyes Northampton is practically a metropolis. It's got two (count 'em, two!) petrol stations, a butchery, a supermarket, a veggie stand, a newsagency... it's even got Canadians!
  When you travel with a three-foot Canadian flag on the back of your five-wheeled biking behemoth, you tend to attract other Canadians like a bear to maple syrup. While rummaging through 50 cent books at the local Salvo's, we ran into Gail, a Canadian immigrant who's currently running one of the local B&Bs, appropriately named the Canada Goose Bed & Breakfast. We became fast friends (how can you not love a fellow Canadian?).
   Gail took us on the grand tour of Northampton and the surrounding area: The Aboriginal cave paintings, Horrocks Beach, Lynton, Pink Lake -- did you know Pink Lake is an entire lake of crusty beta-kerotene? Neither did Wally! -- she drove us almost all the way to Kalbarri! And man, travelling in a car is so fast! You can go, like, 50 kilomtres in less than a day!

"I'm scared."
- Aimee, in the backseat on a 56km/h downhill.
Day 165: Lucky Canuck
Distance Travelled: 37.8km Temperature: 28
Time on Trikes: 6.0h Water Left: 7.0L
Terrain: Mountainous
End Location: G14 Classified
lettin' loose at the goose
We felt so at home, we stayed the night! Actually, Gail was kind enough to offer us a complimentary night in her cosy cabin so that we could sleep in an bed and have an honest-to-goodness bath. She must have known we needed it. Maybe we were smelly. Maybe we were stinky. Maybe she just knows what it's like for a Canadian in a country where the baths are never more than six inches deep. No, when we say honest-to-goodness bath, we mean it, Canadian-style. Take it from a country who knows what it takes to keep warm.
   Who would have thought our return to civilization would occur 50km north of where we thought? Thanks for a warm welcome, Gail and Don!

"You're clear except for a string of sausages and a small fish."
- Aimee.
Day 166: Gerry's Kid
Distance Travelled: 15.2km Temperature: 29
Time on Trikes: 2.5h Water Left: 6.0L
Terrain: Tip: Take Chapman Rd
End Location: Champion Bay B&B
civic holiday
This is it. It's official. We are here, really and truly and honestly to goodnessly within the boundaries of civilization. It's unbelievable, isn't it? It's mind-boggling to think of all the terrain we've covered since Townsville... the Outback, the Barkly, the Stuart, the NT, the Kimberley, and the Pilbara in not so rapid succession, and here we are at the leading edge of where lots of people actually live. We may actually see a person every day until the Nullarbor. Now that's something to shout about.
   For the first time in recent memory, we've passed by a gas station without stopping for the day. I mean, we stopped, we just didn't stay the whole day. I think we're going to enjoy this city.

"Paddle Pops for everybody!"
- Aimee.
Day 167: Is that Kevin, or Russell Crowe?
Distance Travelled: 0.0km Temperature: 28
End Location: Champion Bay B&B
dress to impress
What to wear, what to wear. It's the day before our big reception with Mayor Peterson and we've got closet-fever! The choices are endless... does Aimee wear her grubby tae-kwon-do shirt or her browner-than-white t-shirt with a hole in the belly? Does Kevin put on a fashion show with his ring-around-the-collar button-up or does he resort to his tried-and-true jammies? Like I said, the combinations and permutations are amazing. We could probably come up with, oh, four or six different outfits provided we were willing to share clothing.
  But luckily we're not. We've decided that if we're going to go to a party in our honour, the least we can do is wear something that looks like we didn't pull it out of a dog's throat on the way over. It's time to go shopping!

"Y'know, this place is much cooler than Geraldton, Ontario."
- Aimee.
Day 168: Peace Talks
Distance Travelled: 2.4km Temperature: 31
Terrain: Too steep!
End Location: Champion Bay B&B
it's our party
Geraldton is AWESOME! We arrive, they find us an amazing place to stay (I know you think that from us, 'amazing' could be as simple as finding an old mattress on the side of the highway, but trust us, this place was AMAZING) with an AMAZING couple of hosts who knows more than is humanly possible to know about the city, and now the rest of the town is throwing us a PARTAY!
   In recognition of what a feat of strength it's taken to cycle from Townsville and in celebration of arriving in Geraldton, Mayor Vicki Petersen thought it appropriate to officially welcome us to her city with a wonderful reception at the Civic Centre. In addition, the local member of parliament gave us a big Aussie flag, a big Western Australia flag, and a big Aboriginal flag, not to mention books and tapes about Australia's flags and national anthem. What a warm welcome!
   By the way, if you're wondering why only half a tandem made it to the party... read on.

"It's hard to put on lipstick with a sweatstache."
- Aimee.
Day 169: Sit and Rotate
Distance Travelled: 6.9km Temperature: 31
Terrain: Light Traffic
End Location: Champion Bay B&B
hitch in the plans
Here's what happened... we were all dressed up and ready to go to the party (our party - we were soooo excited!). I decided to walk behind the bikes since I didn't think getting grease all over my party clothes was a good idea, and Kevin would ride the bikes over to the Civic Centre. Now, to paint a scene for you, the road next to the Champion Bay B&B is SUPER STEEP. The steepest in town, in fact. The Civic Centre is down the hill, and to the left.
   Kevin, being the big dumb non-forward-thinking oaf that he is decided to take the hill like he was being chased by Boss Hogg. Leaning into the corner, the red bike made the turn, but without the added weight of Daisy Duke on the back of the trike to stabilize it, it went FLIPPITY! My bike ended up on one side of the road (on one side on the road) and Kevin's continued unabated. The hitch ball, unfortunately, remained with my bike while the hitch bolt continued with Kevin's, un-hitching itself through brute force. We suddenly found ourselves with a bike-and-a-half mere moments before we were due for the Civic Centre to celebrate an accident free bike journey.
  Not people who are prone to panic, we quickly assessed the situation, found (miraculously) no damage, took a moment to ridicule Kevin, and sent my bike back to the B&B.
  Now that the party's over, it's time to take care of business and get this hitch fixed. As they say, it's not what you know, it's who you know. As luck would have it, our Mayor Petersen owns a trucking company and happens to have the facilities (and the pull [with her husband]) to get us a new hitch built on a Sunday. As we've said before, an amazing town with amazing people!

"Tell Mayor Petersen that Kevin called, a biker she met on the weekend."
- Kevin.
salvo's: (pr.n.) the Salvation Army, the cheapest place to shop when you're on a bike and everything you own eventually gets dirty. Great selection can also be found at St. Vincent De Paul's (St. Vinnie's), the Op Shop, or Red Cross (ask about shoe rentals in Port Hedland).

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© 2003 Kevin Beimers & Aimee Lingman. Give me Geraldton any day!