Esperance to Stokes NP 85km
The road to Esperance has a lot less traffic than the Eyre Highway, and also a good deal less trash. The whole 202km highway I only saw a hand full of trucks, and far far fewer Gray Nomads. Also, the roadhouses were a good deal closer together, so I could feel the pressure of "making the distance" disappearing the closer I got to the coast.
And then......a real town.....With working business's. With an active and alive Industrial zone. With people on the streets doing stuff. With shops, open, not boarded up, with stock on the shelves, and selection, and customers. And reasonable prices as well. It seems an age since I've enjoyed the experience.
McDonald's Wifi wasn't working. Lions weren't interested in me. But an unemployed East Coaster who didn't have enough money to get home to his business, because the local cops were victimizing him, was very interested in the half chicken I was eating for lunch.
Also caught up with a lady who had passed me on the Nullabor early on, had visited friends in WA, and was now about to drive back East. Twice across the Nullabor in three Weeks? Not for me.
And a fellow cycle Tourist, local, who is leaving on a trip next week, riding up to Darwin, then basically following me up through Indonesia.
Did some grocery shopping, and got the last jar of a very yummy pickle ( that I later dropped onto a concrete path and smashed), and headed out to the Blue Water Lodge YHA. The Lodge is run by a couple of ladies from the "far north" (Kaeo), and had a distinct Marae feel to it, with a roaring fire, comfortable couches, and a relaxing warm atmosphere. The ladies have only had the lease for a year, but are loving the work, and the location, across the road from the beach. Only complaints. No kaimoana and a long way from the grandkids.
A couple of young kiwi teachers from Perth were staying the night, on school holiday break. They had found relief teaching really easy to get in Perth, and we're spending another month there before heading over to the States for a holiday.
Also a bunch of young Taiwanese girls. Apparently lots of them come to Aussie as cheap agricultural labourers, working on a three to six month visa. These girls were working picking bananas near Cairns.
Apparently the hostel fills up from late August until February with people working on the grain harvest. A huge seasonal employer. Today I've witnessed how big the industry must be, as I've been monstered by Roadtrains shifting grain from somewhere further up this road, back to the big ships waiting in the Esperance harbour. They hit me both ways...empty from behind, and loaded and groaning with the weight from in front.
The terrain today has been so very different from the last month of cycling. Parts could almost be in NZ. Indeed, for the first time in over a month, today I saw rivers, running. That maybe the result of last night's storm, but it is a first.
Also the roadside bird life is much more pronounced and I saw two foxes today. It seems I may have left the long straights behind, and there are even farm houses every 5km to 10km. Yes things are changing.
My attitude also seems to be changing. I'm feeling a lot more relaxed, not needing to push the Kms. There's more to see, and I know I only have under 400km to do in 5 days before Ju arrives. But that doesn't stop me getting cold in the consistent fronts of icy rain hitting me in the face.
Have been thinking lots about all my friends at home. Seems an age since my Goodbye Gig, and when I cycled out of Hanmer. Some I have managed to email or skype, others I have kept missing. Would love to hear from you. My skype address: GrumGoesGlobal, my email: Grumgoesglobal@gmail.com. Give me a buzz.
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