Interlude

Just two hours after I booked a flight home it was cancelled due to Hong Kong not allowing transits through its airport. I spent the morning on the net and eventually found a route home with Qatar airways via Doha to Birmingham leaving on Monday 30th March and arriving on 31st.

Next step in self repatriation was to find somewhere to self isolate for two weeks. I couldn’t return to my Mum’s as she is considered high risk. Tri Club to the rescue. Matt Salmon has provided me with the use of his campervan.

Finally, with Western Australia restricting travel and closing tourist attractions I contemplated how to keep myself occupied for the next week. Livelo bike hire delivered a full carbon road bike with Dura Ace throughout and electronic shifting – better than my bike at home, all for £45 a day.

Thursday; set of at 7.30am, headed for the coast and then along the West Coast highway to North Fremantle. Usually 105km would be OK but temperatures nudging 37° on the way back made it a bit more challenging. I thought I’d taken a wrong turn when I came across the sign below.

I felt a bit jaded on Friday so stayed off the bike a had a gentle jog around the local park.

Saturday’s forecast was for cooler temperatures so I followed a route that the Livelo team had loaded onto the bike computer and headed to the hills. Passed a field full of wild ‘roos and had a great day out.

Joel’s neighbours were in self-isolation after recently returning from New Zealand. They volunteered to cook our dinner, we think they were bored. Following social distancing protocols we collected two bowls of amazing food from their doorstep and two containers of extras for Sunday.

Sunday was a chill-out day. Getting chores done, a visit to the tip and a walk around Perth’s Kings Park.

Monday. Final bike ride before the flight home. I followed the West Coast Highway but went into Fremantle then around the Swan river estuary. Only 25° which is far more manageable. If only cycleways in the UK had these views.

I’ve taken advantage of the great exchange rate and transferred my tour funds into my own Australian bank account. I’ve also put on hold most of my pre-booked trips and campervan hire. All I need to do now is find some work and a place to live in the UK until the crisis is over then re-book stuff and start the tour again. SIMPLES 🙃

Always look on the bright side of life

Wednesday 18th afternoon

Lunch on an empty beach in Adelaide, clear blue skies and 35degrees. Can’t complain!

Don from the Tri club had put me in touch with his friend Dave, also know as Div, who took me for a cycle ride around town and into the hills. I rode a borrowed bike and Div woukd get 5stars as a tour guide on TripAdvisor. We rode to the top of Mount Lofty, met some locals (see pic) and descended via a Pub. Coffee and cake on UK rides are OK but a cold beer takes things up a level.

After a night parked in the Outback, Thursday was a driving day. I covered 711km, saw my first triples and realised a high sided camper in strong winds is wobbly! As the exchange rate is so good fuel is about half the price of UK costs.

After an isolated beach run in Ceduna it was time for some road trip admin, foodshop and laundry. Another lunch by the beach and more locals. This time a ray swimming along the shore.

In the afternoon I made the short hop to Fowler’s Bay. A very small settlement at the end of my first gravel road (20km) with no mains water (stored rainwater and some from a borehole in the dunes) or mains electricity (all from solar).

activemigrationaustraliaAfter another beach run, won’t get bored of them, news started to break on Saturday morning that the Australian authorities were considering closing state borders and limiting non-essential travel. I contacted the organisers of my Orca watching trip who said all was OK. I decided to push on West and stopped in the outback near Cocklebiddy for the night. The location can be found on the What3words app; ///purports.fascinated.brokers

What a day Sunday proved to be. It started with this;

It’s a fascinating piece of road. Pretty flat all the way with changes in the roadside vegetation.

I stopped at Norseman and checked messages. Bad news, Orca trip cancelled and lock down measures being imposed. After some consultation with my sister-in-law’s brother, Jools (who lives in Perth) I decided to head to his and take stock. As it was on-route I stopped at the Kalgoorlie super pit, where gold is mined. It is almost 1km deep.

After an overnight stop at Southern Cross I arrived in Perth and dropped my campervan off.

Unfortunately Jools, his mates and I were exposed to a case of Corona . . .

however, I think we should be OK!

Never one to stress about life Tuesday started with clear blue skys, 22degrees at 7.30am and a run around a local park, with a lake in the middle and a tree full of birds. Can anyone identify them for me?

After a Skype call with an Immigration agent it was clear that I couldn’t get a work visa which would have enabled me to stay and wait out the crisis. I’m now booked on a flight home followed by 2 weeks isolation.

How do I feel?

I’m very happy to have started my tour and completed most of the first leg. I’m not upset about changing plans because others are worse off. It is estimated that 1million Australians lost their jobs overnight as restrictions were implemented. For now I will put the tour on hold, come home, isolate, find work and save money. Then, when restrictions are lifted, I’ll return to Perth and resume my tour.

To be continued . . .

The eye of the storm

Friday 14th March

Another early start however, I’d found a great coffee shop opposite Flinders Railway station, but the caffeine hadn’t kicked in before i reached the platform – right platform, wrong train! I made it to the Melbourne Tri Club swim a bit late, however, it was a technique session so I was able to slot in. Down here they like to use fins when doing technique work so I had to adapt but it was still a good session. Round to the local Cafe for coffee and brekkie.

I took a tram to St Kilda and had a wander along the sea front. Some great views of the City. Unfortunately news began to filter through that the F1 had been cancelled. It was upsetting to see spectators in full merch with sad faces leaving Albert Park carrying full cool boxes and unopened crates of beer. I was due to go on Sunday.

On the way back from St Kilda I picked up a hire bike from Bike Now. Really friendly and great service. It was only 35pounds to hire a carbon road bike for a day.

It’s a good job that I’m an early bird – at the meeting point on the sea front at 6am for the Tri Club Saturday Long Ride (after saying g’day to the youngsters at the hostel coming in from nights out!). It was still dark! Around 30 of us rolled out in one group on a mixture of road and tri bikes. No pace groups and we weren’t the biggest peleton on the road. A straight out and back route with various turn-around points to allow for rides from 30km to 130km. I went for the 85km option. We had a head wind for the 40km out and a tail wind all the way back. Not having a decent breakfast showed as my legs started to fall off in the last 10km but a 30kmh average made it worthwhile. The post ride Cafe served an amazing omelete and awesome coffee.

If you are ever in Melbourne and want to hang out with a very welcoming and friendly group of triathletes look up Melbourne Tri Club.

By 10.30am I was back at the hostel, showered and ready to be a tourist. Melbourne aquarium is worth a visit.

Aus cuisine is a mixture of all the cultures that have settled here. The variety and quality is great. I had one of the best pizzas ever.

With no F1 to fill Sunday I took a bus tour to the Grampians, about 3hours drive West of Melbourne. Unfortunately, our Tour Guide showed no sympathy for those travelling in F1 tops. The first tune on her playlist of the day was The Chain by Fleetwood Mac. Listen to it via Google / Spotify and you will understand why. Smiles all round set the tone for the day. Lots of great views, chatted up a bird and saw the first roos of my trip. Yes, they are wild ones.

Melbourne done, time to move on.

On Monday morning I collected my home for the next month and set off towards Adelaide along the Great Ocean Road. As it was the first long drive of my tour I broke it up with a few stops along the way to take in some natural wonders.

After an overnight stop at Warmambool I set of for the 600km drive to Adelaide. I took the coast road and began to get a sense of the size of Australia.

The 30degree temperature was not what caused my sweaty palms though . . .

I found a campsite beside Semaphore Beach in Adelaide. Not a bad spot to sit and eat my dinner.

Wednesday morning swim was at the Adelaide Aquatic centre. There is a 25m pool in the back right of the pic and a childrens pool in the back left, with a 50m in the foreground. I had a lane to myself for an hour. I could get used to this social distancing thing.

On my way to the local library to write this post I passed this sign.

At the moment I have felt some impact from the Corona virus precautions being put in place; F1 cancelled and the pool I was going to attend some training sessions at in Perth has closed. I have a sense of being in the eye of a storm. There seems little point in coming back to the UK as there are far fewer cases here. If I’m going to have to implement social distancing, being in a hot, sunny location on my own, in a campervan, where I can currently move locations, seems a good option. For now I am going to carry on with my trip and adapt as I go.

Teleportation?

Walking along the passageway you go through an opening and into an area with seats across it’s width in a 3-4-3 arrangement. If you didn’t know about the Airbus A380, a double decker jumbo, seeing it’s size for the first time is surprising. Eating dinner, watching a film and sleeping soon make a 12hr flight pass. Stepping into the 30plus heat of Singapore I almost felt like I’d been teleported.

I’d landed in the early evening and had just 24hrs to see some sights. First stop was the hostel to drop of my backpack. I was let in by two English young women who came from in Bishops Stortford! Excellent street food for dinner and a Singapore Sling at Raffles ticked some boxes.

A few hours sleep tackled some of the jet lag and then a session at Swim Smooth Singapore. Seeing the sun come up as I completed the main set in an outdoor 50m pool was epic.

Post swim fuel stop then onto the Botanic Gardens.

These are sounds that I was surprised to hear in the middle of a major city.

My second flight landed in Melbourne only 6hours after take-off at 05.30 Aus time on Wednesday. Sitting on the bus into town it dawned on me that a massive life goal was happening. I WAS IN AUSTRALIA 🙃

I met my first fellow traveller as we tried to find the entrance to our hostel and then spent the day doing a walking tour (yes they are Banksy’s) visiting botanic gardens (not as good as Singapore’s) and the last night of Victoria market’s summer season. The live music . . .

What’s jet lag?

Thursday morning 5.45am, 90minute swim with Melbourne Triathlon Club. For my fellow swimming geeks the main set was 4x(3x negative split 200s). A Rob special for the future? Followed by an invite to breakfast. Superb coffee, muesli and a very warm welcome.

I decided that a bit of pacing was needed. Back to the hostel, did some laundry (no pics of my smalls) and chats with the ‘crew’ about sights to see and things to do. Local knowledge beats social media hands down.

#onelifelivingit