Day 9: Live update – Odometer 50305km. Sometimes, I don’t know why I do certain things. It’s almost crazy, because the bike is now steering its way north from Perth. Broome, looks like you’ll be my date in a few days time!
Reflecting on my journey from Sydney to Perth over the past week, there were many things that I would have done differently. The lack of a thorough service prior to the trip, which required me to replace the rear tyre, chain and clutch fluid as I proceeded with the journey, wasted an excessive amount of time, which significantly slowed my pace. Due to the slower pace, I was not able to visit major attractions such as Fowlers Bay on the Nullarbor.
Ultimately, I did achieve my first objective of reaching Perth, albeit a day off from my schedule. However, I was still behind my schedule, and this may mean that other destination points may have to be reconsidered as I travel up north to Broome. Nevertheless, my schedule was planned at this point so that it was flexible to accommodate further mishaps and interruptions.
I met up with a Queenslander in the hostel who was also an avid rider, but who was stuck in Perth for a while time due to a mining assignment in the region. We had a good chat about some sort of two-week guided adventure bike tour that starts from the west coast, goes through the desert interior of Australia, and finishes on the Queensland coast. This got me thinking about doing a cross-country tourer of Australia in the later future on dirt roads. Ideas, ideas. If only I had the time and the money…
The Fremantle Prison YHA hostel, in which I stayed overnight, is not just named as such for marketing purposes; it actually is located within a part of the historic Fremantle Prison complex. I found this to be a very advantageous point for this backpacker venue, which only costed $29.00 for a night in a 10-bed dorm. Not only was the place full of historical features, it was also fitted out with one of the best facilities you can ask for this type of accommodation. Yeah, sure you can probably complain about the odd snorer in the share dorm, or the countless people who would hog the insufficient power points that are available. But hey, the contemporary rain shower (which, by the way, I have never used up until now.. how uncultured of me) in a clean, immaculate modern bathroom more than makes up for that.
For an hour or so, I dedicated my time to explore the town of Fremantle, due to its convict-era heritage that formed the beginning of a new settlement in Western Australia, back then referred to as the Swan River Colony. The lack of towering urban developments have enabled Fremantle to retain its quaint village atmosphere, and its characterful charm will make it worthwhile for any visitor exploring the Perth region.
The Perth CBD is a 30-minute drive from Fremantle. Although this was the first time visiting Perth, the roads were very easy to navigate, and traffic jams were non-existent. Signs well placed, sun shining brightly, seemingly-calm drivers and many more days of adventures on the road to come, it was looking like a good day.
A highly centralised business district, large harbour-like surrounds of the Swan River, plenty of greenery, mild weather, plentiful beaches and an expansive urban sprawl, the city is like a downsized version of Sydney with half the population. I’m sure that it would be a fantastic place to live for those with an emphasis on a conservative, family-oriented environment.
I was enjoying riding through Perth, until a Hyundai SUV almost side-swiped me at an intersection. Avoiding the inattentive driver by mounting a kerb, I thought that I had at least ruined the front rim or, even worse, a bent fork. Upon inspection after the incident, my fears were unfounded, and all that was left as a remnant of the incident was a chalky print stamped by the white road kerb. This was a profound reminder that I should not be let off my guard, and that I must always keep a sharp focus on the inherent dangers of riding a motorcycle on the road. Indeed, some may say that urban riding is much more dangerous than riding on the openness of country back roads. Fact of the day: Bad drivers are everywhere.
One of the biggest attractions of which I was anticipating were the ocean sunsets of the Western Australian coast. Being a Sydneysider my whole life, sunsets are like a light source that would gradually hide behind the western mountain range of the Blue Mountains, which really just meant that the rest of Australia still had some light left to their day whilst we meandered back home from work in darkness. Not in the case of Perth, however. Being the westernmost large city of Australia, Perth gets to enjoy the ideal sunset that would win the hearts of those in search of a romantic evening.
One of the biggest challenges in my road trip was maximising the hours of daylight that I had available in a day. My journey was set in the beginning of the Winter season, so sunrise occurred at around 7am and sunset came over at just past 5pm Eastern Standard Time. I only had approximately 10 hours to ride under the radiance of the sun, versus the additional 4 hours that I would have had if the trip had been set in the seasonal prime of the Australian Summer.
Nobody in their right mind can ride for a straight 10 hours. You have to top up on fuel, eat up to maintain your energy, take sufficient breaks in between destination to reduce fatigue and also to take some time out there to appreciate the places that you visit. In very general terms, an 8-hour 700km trip (which worked out to be the approximate daily average of my whole trip) would usually take me 14 hours to complete when taking those variables into account. Therefore, I had no choice but to ride through the night so that I can maintain the pace that was set out by my 25-day itinerary.
The stock headlights on the Panigale, at least in my case, fall short of being a spectacular performer in the dark. Its illumination, whilst providing good width, is insufficient for anything over three seconds of travel distance at highway speeds. Clicking it up to high-beam mode makes it even worse, in which light is focused like a spotlight straight to the road beyond what is directly in front of my tracks. They’re useless. A shame, because the LED that comes standard on the S-model Panigale is reportedly as good as it gets. Maybe I need better halogen bulbs to improve the lights on mine.
Due to the night-time riding issue related to my headlights, I found that cars and other vehicles were my guardian angels in the pitch-black darkness of the remote highway. Riding behind other vehicles allowed me to use their beam as a way to extend my line of vision on the road, and allow me to identify potential hazards much earlier so that I can anticipate the correct course of action.
As the night grew colder, an irritating sore throat began to concern me greatly. Illnesses don’t affect me very frequently, but when it does infiltrate my immune system, it brings me down to a bedridden state. A sore throat may be seen as minor, but going by personal experience it indicates a symptom of a severe sickness to come soon. Despite my will to push on, I knew that something like this would happen and the combination of a lack of sufficient rest and a diet of a cow’s backside does me no favours at all. In an attempt to curb my deteriorating condition, I downed a bottle of Berocca and binged on a handy supply of throat lozenges, wishfully hoping that there’d be a divine medical turnaround regardless of my dietary iniquities.
Later in the evening at 11pm, I made it safely to the hostel in Kalbarri. Thank goodness that the housekeepers were still awake, laying back on a chair in the patio whilst puffing on a durry, as I entered the venue. A good thing, or else I would have been knocking on the door with a very sorry face to wake them up from their sleep. Bringing my feeble self to the couch of the hostel, I close my eyes and fall to sleep with the hope of a rejuvenated, healthy and enthusiastic Dave for the next day.
Basic Statistics for the day:
- Route: Perth, Lancelin, Kalbarri
- Total distance: 672km
- Range of temperature: 12°C to 25°C
Expenses for the day:
General map route: