Collie to Waroona 1996

Collie to Waroona, day 11, Friday 25 October 1996. I woke up, broke my fast on Brie cheese and vanilla slice and choc milk and coffee and rode away at 8:05. The morning was clear and cold with E – SE winds, as expected. It was just as well I had checked the maps the previous day, because my town map of Collie gave a different name from the name in the more modern map, to the town road that led to the Mornington Mills Road. It was exactly the same road. This might have caused confusion. I did eventually find the correct way out of town after back-tracking and checking street signs once. Better sure than sorry.



Angles at the site often look different from the way they do on the map. A road that goes off at right angles on the map often starts off by going at an angle forward or backward. A road heading west with a lesser branch to the left can in practice turn out to be a road heading west, then southwest, with a lesser branch to the right. Thus if you have in your head ‘Stick to the main track, and don’t take the branch to the left’ you can end up some km south of where you want to be. This happened to me in 1995, on Day 7.

The road was quite good and wide but very hilly but the breeze was helpful, though not so effective since I was riding through the forest. I took a drink stop at 1508, leaning the bike against a log near a sign. While I was there the radio played a track from ‘Riverdance’. This was delightful and energised me for the day ahead. At 1510 I found the junction where I had to take a left, go a km and take a right. If you take a right at the junction you come to Wagerup Alumina Refinery, the establishment of which has caused these roads to be changed and upgraded. There is now a railway track where there wasn’t 20 years ago.

The required right turn duly appeared at 1511 and the gravel started within a few hundred metres. Sometimes when a section of road is gravel it isn’t so hilly, but this didn’t seem to be true in this case. I did a lot of walking up and down stretches that were too steep and rough to ride down safely or up without slithering to a stop. But I had plenty of time and took it easy. I reckoned I had only at the most 20 or so km of this to get over before hitting the South Western Highway , i.e. civilisation, plenty of towns, end of problems. And some km before that I expected some km of easy fast riding down the scarp onto the coastal plain. This is a bonus which I have enjoyed before at other points on other rides.

I had a drink-stop at 1523, then ran onto bitumen at 1528. A few hundred metres later I got my first view of the vision splendid, of the coastal plain extended, through a gap in the hills. The downhill run started at 1531 and continued until 1534. At some point in this run I reached my highest speed for the ride, 61 kph, faithfully recorded on the cyclocomputer.

Turning at last onto the South Western Highway I felt stiff and sore and not very energetic, the wind was against me and I seemed to be going uphill. I laboured on for a while, got past Wokalup, and as the road turned from NE to N I took another drink stop at 1538. I passed the Harvey turnoff at 1540. Signs contradicted each other in the vicinity, but there were no more than 28 km to go now to Waroona town (a bit further to the motel, which lies on the northern outskirts of Waroona).

Again it was one of those days when 28 km seems a long way. I did not remember the hills on the South Western Highway near Harvey being so steep going up, and so gentle going down. But the distance got done, km by km, and I stopped at Yarloop (1556), with only 13 km to go, to have a last rest and buy a rich choc milk from the store.

The South Western Highway is very pretty in October. Creeks and ponds and dams still have water in them, the hills and paddocks are green and anything that flowers at this time is doing so.

At last I came to some scattered buildings, then to the sign saying ‘Waroona’ then up the main street, noting the position and distance of post office, shops, bakeries and possible sources of hot food for dinner. I reached the motel at 12:49, 1570.3. It was a bit out of town. I would be using the bike for shopping and sightseeing.

The motel was nice, with a bar, restaurant, pool and convention area. The unit was $40 and was spacious with radio, TV and a back door leading to an internal corridor that terminated in a door leading to the pool area. I paid at the bar and settled in.

Every ride comes to a point where I feel that it is ‘over’ even though I might be still some way from home. In 1995 I felt that way when I finally reached The Lakes after a long day on the gravel from Beverley. In the early rides I felt that way when I got back to Busselton, with only the easy flat 53 km ride to Bunbury and the train left. This year I felt that it was ‘over’ when I reached the comfort of the Drakesbrook motel, with only an easy 44km ride to Mandurah the next day, then the run up the coast on Sunday, to come, all on the coastal plain through relatively well-populated areas.

I rode back into the town to do my shopping and get lunch. The ride was fading into its last stages and there was little shopping to do except to get some nice things for the next morning’s breakfast.

When I arrived at the shopping centre, four children were just inside playing around. When they saw me through the full length glass doors they all smiled in delight and came outside to ask me about my bike. We must have looked dustier and more interesting than I had thought. I answered them as well as I could, then their mother came and smiled at me as she told them to come back inside.

Back at the motel, after lunch and a rest I enjoyed a swim in the pool, then rested on the sun-warmed concrete around the pool, against a wall. With my left eye, which can focus really close up, being extremely shortsighted, I watched a tiny insect crawl across the concrete. It was going very fast for such a small dot of a thing and was rimmed with tiny hairs. I wondered that such a small creature should be so perfectly structured, with efficient legs. It would only have been a couple of hundred micrometres in length.

I looked over the wall, expecting to see more grounds and buildings associated with the motel. Instead I saw a sheep paddock coming right up to the wall.

When I did my washing there was nowhere to hang it, but I festooned it outside my unit in the westerly sun and no-one seemed to mind.

I rode down through the town, made telephone calls, booked the Brighton Hotel in Mandurah for the next night and inspected the local tourist attraction, the Vision Splendid Gardens, a fanciful park created in his large garden by a local resident who has made a scale model of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and some other things and planted many interesting flowers and shrubs. I bought a postcard.

The day ended as usual with fast food, cakes, choc milk, TV and relaxation. I looked back on the day with some satisfaction. I had tried something new and succeeded at it, and stayed in a place where I hadn’t stayed before. I had done 85 km, the second longest day’s run of the trip. I also felt a bit sad that the ride was nearly over and that all the challenges and worries were over. I was glad that I had pursued my goal and hadn’t bottled out. The ride hadn’t been any easier than it should have been; on the contrary, it had been made more difficult by contrary winds, inconsistent maps and a whole day of unceasing rain that wasn’t predicted and is not usual in October.

Reading at Waroona: 1577.6. Day’s ride: 85 km. Aggregate 713 km. Kpd 64.8. Kph to Waroona: 16.4.

Charles A. Pierce

Other Days on this Tour:

  1. Kelmscott to Rocky Gully Tour 1996
  2. Kelmscott to Pinjarra 1996
  3. Pinjarra to Harvey 1996
  4. Harvey to Donnybrook 1996
  5. Donnybrook to Bridgetown 1996
  6. Bridgetown to Nyamup 1996
  7. Nyamup to Rocky Gully 1996
  8. Rocky Gully to Kojonup 1996
  9. Kojonup to Boscabel 1996
  10. Boscabel to Darkan 1996
  11. Darkan to Collie 1996
  12. Collie to Waroona 1996
  13. Waroona to Mandurah 1996
  14. Mandurah to Cottesloe 1996

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