Donnybrook to Bridgetown 1996

Donnybrook to Bridgetown, day 4, Friday 18 October 1996. I left Donnybrook at 7:42 on a fine calm morning. This was the fourth day of riding south and I had been lucky so far with the winds. The climbing stretch from Donnybrook developed the low point of the trip in 1991, but this time I was determined to take it easy and not let it get me down. There would be greater difficulties further along the way.

Bridgetown Main Street

Bridgetown Main Street

I rested at 1072, before Kirup, then rode through Kirup without stopping. I found the downhill runs tiring in a different way from the uphill climbs – the bike was doing over 50 and I felt tense, but didn’t brake or stop pedalling. Downhill runs don’t usually worry me and I didn’t want to give in to this.

I reached Balingup (1087) and stopped for a drink at the southern end of the town, just before the bridge and the big hill. An old man, a retired timber worker as he said, was walking along with a can of spray to use against the ants round his house. He stopped to discuss my ride with me. He told me how the railway line from Balingup to Greensbushes climbed the longest 1 in 40 grade in Australia, and of how the train would always climb the hill empty and come back loaded, so that two locomotives were needed to slow its descent.

I finished my break and said goodbye to the man, then crossed the bridge and started up that well-known hill. I got to the top without dismounting.

I stopped for a last rest at 1101. This time, unlike 1991, I did manage to keep pedalling all the way up Hester’s Hill, then enjoyed the downhill run into Bridgetown, though still feeling tense about the speed.

Reached Bridgetown at 1113.9, 11:23. I rode through to the Freemasons’ hotel and had to leave everything there for an hour because my room wasn’t ready. This was all right because I needed to plan and shop for the next day, and for Sunday as well, because in a small town on a Sunday night there can be a problem with getting food.

I got a six-pack of 250mL boxes of orange-and-mango drink that was on special at Four Square, some packets of hot chocolate drink mixture from Foodland, some biscuits, dried sultanas, fruit and milk.. There was no need to worry about the next day’s breakfast because a help-yourself light breakfast was included in the price of the room. This meant I could go down as early as I liked and have as much as I liked. I would of course as usual consume all the fresh fruit and milk before the next day’s ride.

A light southerly wind had come in by the time I went back to the hotel where my room was ready. The lady gave me one set of keys, then changed her mind and gave me another. She said the cleaner was new on the job, had taken longer than usual, then had taken the keys home by mistake. The keys fitted.

The room was big though gloomy, with one window opening onto an upstairs verandah where I saw a clothes-line and some pegs. The bathroom was quite big. The whole building was old, so I think that two rooms had been remodelled to make this one suite. There was a fridge and tea and coffee and a kettle. There was a double bed flanked by two undersized single beds, clearly meant for children. I took the double bed.

I rested, showered, changed, looked round the town. I had made a point of looking in newsagents to find a light folding map, rather than a big expensive heavy book, to show in up-to-date detail the back road from Frankland to Kojonup on which this whole venture now seemed to depend. I finally found it, by luck. I happened to pass the Tourist Information Centre five minutes before it was to close, went in, asked, was shown a light folding map entitled ‘Albany’ that showed the road in question as being all sealed, and all called the Shamrock Road, not part Gordon, part Shamrock as shown in the big book. Since the date on this map was 1996 I decided that I would trust it and go with it. I paid the $3 and walked out happy.

I still would have tried the road on the Monday to come but it made a difference to have the proper map, rather than my rough sketch and my doubts.

I made some long credit-card phone calls. Bridgetown is the only one of the towns I stayed in that has such a facility. The next night’s stop was already booked, of course. I walked up the road to see the Anglican church, 49 years old when I first knew it, now 85. I looked inside at the stained glass windows. There was music playing. They were just about to hold a service so I didn’t linger. I walked back along the river to the hotel, walked round the corner and up the hill a bit to get some fried stuff for dinner.

Reading at Bridgetown: 1113.9km. Day’s ride: 59. Aggregate: 249km. km/day 62.2. kph to Bridgetown16.0 (1991: 13.0).

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

Places Mentioned in this Post:

Tags: , , ,

Want To Provide Some Feedback?