Day 114 | Leonora Laverton Road bushcamp: you just use one of those minor tracks off the side of the road

106 km | zzOz total: 5,676 km

It seems years ago now but when I work it out it’s less than 3, when I met my first real fellow bike traveller, a few days out of Melbourne as I headed to Canberra on the backroads, just before Christmas a few years ago.

A Dutch guy, tanned, wiry and pretty sharp, didn’t seem to have much gear aboard: bar bag, 2 rear panniers, not bulging, and a neat rack top bag. Minimal.

He looked at my bursting panniers and Big Bob rather quizzically. I explained I was testing some gear for a bigger trip, I left the destination vague, who would have guessed it would turn into this epic.

What about you?

He’d biked through Europe, Russia, Tibet, China to Singapore. Then took a plane to Perth. Maybe he had the abbreviated Guide to Australia because he had made a beeline for Uluru on the Great Central Road, Then Noosa, via the Plenty Highway, and was now just a day or two from Melbourne, I sensed it was almost the end of his epic.

How did you carry enough water, I asked.

Oh, I slung 2 eight litre water bags under the handlebars, he answered very casually.

That was it, we didn’t even exchange names, he was probably completely over discussing his trip.

I remember thinking at the time it seemed a little risky, it was a long way between water points on the GCR and the Plenty.

I also thought gotta do that.

I’ve met some other riders who have made the trip: Ina on her single speed, or three speed as she described it, stop, go, stop. Can’t be that hard.

And Sebastien, who did half before branching off and tackling the old Gunbarrel Highway to Wiluna, a very much tougher proposition and not recommended for a well loaded down solo traveller who has neglected to bring 60m of rope to draw water from the bores. From Carnegie Station it’s almost exactly 500km through picturesque terrain, and some difficult patches of sand, but there are no services, houses, etc, anything other than three or four 150mm diameter plastic bore pipes to locate somewhere out there, the only water available.

The only web blog of the trip at the time was Anthony Manns’s little adventure Anthony Manns’s little adventure as part of his bike trip to the 7 extremes of Australia: highest, lowest, centre, south, east, north and west points.

Now it’s my turn on the Great Central Road and you know what? I’ve got 8 litres of water slung under my handlebars.

Might be a while before I manage the next blog.