Panigale Around Australia 2016: Day 8 – Esperance to Perth

Day 8: Live update – Odometer 50108km. Left Sydney on Friday evening last week, and have now arrived in Perth on Friday evening. It is currently 10:30pm Australian Western Standard Time, and have clocked up 5414km over the week on the Panigale. I am utterly knackered. Time to recuperate tonight.

The historic Fremantle Prison in Fremantle, south of the Perth CBD in Western Australia.

The host of the hostel insisted that I must check out Cape Le Grand National Park to catch a sight of the fantastic landscape at sunrise. Not one to miss such an opportunity that’s waiting in front of me, I woke up as soon as I could. But it was a struggle to get out in the first place, because the warmth and dryness of the indoors was equally an enticing option, keeping in mind that I was still very much tired from the consecutive long days spent on the saddle over the week.

Rain clouds were gathering up around and within the heart of the Cape Le Grand National Park, and roads remained damp from the rain over the night. As sprinkles of rain began to fall, two things popped up in my mind: I can just turn back and wait at the hostel indoors before leaving for Perth, or I can just harden up and proceed to ride off the weather. As you may expect, I ignored the rain, and it turned out to be the best decision so far for the day.

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I’ve usually found that gloomy conditions made for more interesting photography. Anybody can obtain a glossy brochure shot in perfect conditions, but where’s the adventure in that? The best thing about adventures is the grit and grime that you go through to overcome nature’s adversaries; the storm above your head, the rain that saturates your gear, the grey clouds that prepare themselves to greet you up in the tempestuous horizon. Similarly, as long as you’re willing to overcome your morbid fear of damaging electronic equipment, the best photos that portray an adventure is one that’s captured under the varying conditions of the open road.

The main place that I decided on as my central experience of the national park was Lucky Bay. This is the beach where among the most well-known photographs of iconic Australian locations have been taken, particularly of kangaroos lazily laying on the pristine sandy beaches. The sand is so squeaky-clean, to put it simply, that it squeaks under your boots as you walk across the picturesque expanse of this southern paradise.

Interestingly, the weather was perfect in this side of the national park. One simple lesson of the day: Never let a bit of rain to ruin your plan, or else you’d miss out on what’s on offer!

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Due to time constraints, my experience of this park was cut very short. From Cape Le Grand National Park, I had to pass through Esperance again to access the South Coast Highway towards Perth, so this served as a last-chance opportunity to enjoy its coastline before leaving.

The Tanker Jetty is a historic 670m-long wooden pier built in 1935 that was originally set up for oil and agricultural logistics until the 1960s when a purpose-designed industrial wharf rendered this jetty as insignificant for further commercial use. Since then, it had grown to become a tourist attraction whilst being neglected by a minimal council maintenance budget.

The Esperance Foreshore, supporting the historic Tanker Jetty that will soon be demolished amid public outcry.

Tanker Jetty has now become dilapidated to the point where the council has deemed it to be more economical to demolish it, rather than risk a massive clean-up cost later in its life. Despite public protests, it has been earmarked to be given the wrecking ball as soon as possible, so the photo above will be among the last of its existence.

As a final attraction point within the Esperance region, I paid a quick visit to the Pink Lake, a body of inland waters that display a pinkish appearance provided that water and ambient light conditions are favourable for the colour. Changes in colour of the dominant algae specimen present in the lake is found as the major cause of the distinctive colour of the lake. Unfortunately, nature decided not to show its trick of the day, so I moved on towards my next destination: Hyden, home of Wave Rock.

Insect-bombed helmet visor.

On the previous day, I had my rear tyre replaced. Instead of the Scorpion Trail II that I had before, I was issued with the predecessor that is the Scorpion Trail I as logistics did not allow for the latest one. The Scorpion Trail II, as covered in my blog post from two months before commencing my trip, did a fantastic job throughout its relatively short time span, covering 12000km across various surfaces including dirt, gravel, urban and outback highways.

With the brand new rear tyre, I was much more enthusiastic with the throttle, launching the bike with a take-no-prisoners attitude at every intersection and exploiting the bike’s prodigious overtaking capabilities on the highway. From this point forward, all the parts that needed replacing were finally all done, and had a bike that I should have started the trip from the beginning. Slight decision making flops aside, it was liberating to gun the bike without any wear and tear concerns.

Wave Rock had always been one of the iconic monolithic Australian rock formations that I’ve always wanted to see in person. Entry fee is $10.00 per person, and accessibility is as easy as it can be from the car park. Just like many other significant rock formations, the Wave Rock is larger than it seems in a photograph. I would have loved to roll in my bike in front of the rock, but cultural values of traditional Aboriginal owners must be upheld and respected.

It was an essential part of my itinerary to visit the Wave Rock but, with Perth being the final destination of the day, there wasn’t much time left in the day. Leaving Hyden at 5pm meant that I was going to initiate a not-so-insignificant country night ride, undertaking a very remote route as the sun was setting. The final 300km to Perth, which is both quite a formidable effort and an incredibly dangerous commitment considering that I had already completed 600km of riding with two major stopovers, had to be done, regardless of logical reasons as to why I otherwise should not.

Waiting for nothing at Hyden, WA.

Riding across the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, temperatures sharply dropped as the sun faded and complete darkness furnished the night. The mercury fell as low as 6°C and the wind chill factor aggravated the riding conditions. Because I had also woken up so early in the morning, I was at a point in the evening where I really needed some sleep.

Eventually, I arrived at around Perth’s outer eastern suburbs, stopping at a car park within a random neighbourhood. Fatigue took a heavy hold on me, causing me to blank out whilst riding. I was in urgent need of a break before I caused an accident on the road, and it didn’t matter where I stopped.

Now that I think about it, I was probably in the hood, and by that I mean intoxicated teens on bicycles in the middle of the night, bottle in hand as they roamed their domain. There was indeed a general feeling of sketchiness about the locality, but no care is given when I’m already beaten up on the arse by the slim saddle of the Panigale anyway.

The historic Fremantle Prison, constructed using convict labour in 1855 for sentenced convicts.

The subsequent home run to my accommodation consisted of 30km of suburban riding to Fremantle. This 30km stretch felt like it took longer than the 300km that I had done from Wave Rock to the Perth suburbs. The desire to end the day was overpowering my senses. The goal of completing my Sydney-Perth section of the road trip was coming to a close, but it was as if my brain was counting my progress in increments of 0.1km.

The hostel in which I had decided to stay at overnight was the YHA hostel based within the compound of the Fremantle Prison. The hostel had only been opened from just a few months back, so all facilities were modern and immaculate whilst retaining the original interior brickwork of the historic buildings. The presentation of the accommodation was the last thing on my mind; I just needed a place to drop my belongings and rest my head.

Beef snack pack at Nicks Place in Fremantle.

Sleep was now just a bed away inside the hostel, but my stomach also needed some attention. A day spent surviving on the energy derived from a single sausage roll meant that I was thoroughly lacking in the minimum dietary intake.

This called for a meal that I know would fill me without fail. I needed the perfect food that can make me feel like a king at his feast. I needed the best that nightclub-frenzied Fremantle can offer me at midnight. I needed a dash of culinary bliss to satisfy a man who’s just emerged from the wilderness.

Fair dinkum, and what better way is there to celebrate the diversity of cultures within a cosmopolitan Australian city than to grab a kebab snack pack, topped with chilli and garlic sauce. You ripper!


Basic Statistics for the day:

  • Route: Esperance, Cape Le Grand National Park, Ravensthorpe, Hyden, Perth
  • Total distance: 907km
  • Range of temperature: 6°C to 24°C

Expenses for the day:

Day 8 - Expenses image.jpg

General map route:

Day 8 - Map - Esperance to Perth.jpg