February 2011

February 1 — Wongan Hills to Ballidu, 37.22 klms, Avg speed 16.2 kph, Cycling time 2.17 hrs; Total kms 18,450

Last night the wind blew quite hard from the south east.  The tent holds well but the noise kept at least one of us awake.  Accordingly, Greg woke well rested and ready for the day, mmmm....  It was Pam at the Toodyay Tavern that suggested we visit Ballidu, a community with a strong art culture.  Being only 37 klms away it was a short ride with a change of scenery, less trees and more salinity problems evident on the land.  It was a charming, small, friendly town with the shop keeper offering to make us a cup of coffee.  We sat out the front & chatted to the locals, unfortunately being on bikes causes a lot of interest so we’re constantly asked the same Qs—”how many klms do you ride a day?”, “how many punctures have you had?”, “you must be so fit?” etc. etc.  Sometimes it’s tedious & annoying so our way of handling it & depending who you’re talking to & want to talk to is to ask them Qs, it usually works and can be interesting too.  A lot of the Caravan Parks in these wheat belt towns are owned by the Shire,       are cheap, have good facilities including a laundry & if they don’t have a camp kitchen will have a BBQ.  Some have caretakers, some don’t & there’s usually a notice advising of fees & where payment can be made.  For $5 per night (cheapest camp site to date) we had the Ballidu Caravan Park to ourselves, picked up the facility keys from the local Tavern & moved a picnic table into the shade to sit out the heat of the day.  With the lack of rain there wasn’t a blade of grass to be seen nor much tree shade so we didn’t fancy pitching the tent on the hard ground, we decided we’d sleep on our mats on the tiled floor to the entrance of the laundry—perfect & a quick exit in the morning as no tent to pack.  With laundry duties & refreshing showers out of the way we walked down to the local pub & enjoyed some beers & filling Chicken Parmigianas—what the heck, we’ll cycle it off tomorrow on our long (92klms) ride to Koorda!

February 2 — Ballidu to Koorda, 92.64 klms, Avg speed 13.2 kph, Cycling time 7.00 hrs; Total kms 18,543

We’re always thinking about gadgets that might come in useful on our trip and one that we purchased recently was a Thermos, giving us cold drinking water on a hot day & instant hot water in the mornings, without waiting for the billy to boil.  So with no tent & no billy to pack we were up at 4am & on the road at 5am feeling some trepidation facing a 90 klm ride, a distance we hadn’t ridden for some months & a dirt road of undeterminable quality.  But on this ride we were as happy as pigs in poop—listening to Radio National, gazing at beautiful views, easily tackling the 15 klms of dirt road, passing rolling fields of wheat, wheat & wheat, seeing bunnies & a fox & stopping for morning tea at Cadoux for coffee & picnic bars.  The only downside was battling strong head/side winds and feeling so sorry & helpless for the people in the path of Cyclone Yasi including our friends Mike & Jill at Innisfail.  After 7 hours of cycling we rode to the Shire owned Caravan Park, deserted but for us, hardly any grass but with a shady, well kitted out camp kitchen.  If it hadn’t been so hot we would have stayed there but we also knew the Shire owned some self contained units, relatively cheap, which is where we stayed for the next 2 nights—with air con, double bed, tele, fridge & our own bathroom.  When we camp & if there’s a restaurant or cafe in town we tend to eat out which can be expensive.  We’ve come to realise that when we self cater we tend to eat in which is less expensive & often less than our daily budget so Betty Budget’s on the case to source alternative, cheap accommodation that’s owned by the Shire, Caravan Park or Pub.  Me thinks Greg is yet to be convinced of the merits of this as it doesn’t involve a sit on a stool adjacent to beer taps.  Stay tuned....For the next couple of days we rested to escape the 38°- 40° heat.  More bad coffee, but nice people and, for those with a car, a still operating drive in theatre, which is not bad for such a small town. The local paper advertises both rabbit and fox shoots in coming months, along with the ongoing poisoning regime.  We passed through The Rabbit Proof Fence on the way into Koorda, but we were unaware of this at the time.  There are a couple of these in WA so I’m sure we’ll get the chance to see one along the way. 

February 4 — Koorda to Bencubbin, 40.83 klms, Avg speed 15.2 kph, Cycling time 2.40 hrs; Total kms 18,584

Another lovely ride with more rabbits (aren’t we supposed to be inside the Rabbit Proof Fence!?) , a tin dog (!) & stumpy tailed lizard.  The roads were long, straight & undulating, hardly any traffic & again more wheat, wheat, wheat & wheat.  We battled a medium head wind but compared to the wind after leaving Karratha last September, this was nothing!  This is some of the most enjoyable riding we’ve done for a long time, we’re very happy.  My enquiries the day before confirmed there were only 2 accommodation options at Bencubbin, a room at the pub (too expensive) or camp at the Shire owned Caravan Park for $5.50 pn.  We chose the latter and again being the only ones there planned to sleep in the laundry.  We rode to the Shire, paid our fee, bought groceries at the supermarket & sat in the shade of a pergola for the next 2 hours to escape the heat & eat lunch.  We waited until 2pm then headed to the swimming pool, more shade but this time with the luxury of a cool swim & again hardly anyone there.  Our piece was shattered at 3.30pm when the school kids arrived but it’s great to see the kids enjoying these pools, at least their not stuck at home glued to a computer.  From the pool we then moved to the pub, Horsey & Crazy Ruby still loaded up with our gear, our plan being to eat at the pub then ride to the Caravan Park before it got dark (around 8pm) and hopefully less cool  & with the wind increasing in power, a laundry sleep sounded like a really good choice.  After dinner Matt, who was managing the pub, must have taken pity on us as he offered us a free bed for the night which we gladly accepted and slept soundly in the comfort of a soft bed & air con. Thanks Matt!

February 5 — Bencubbin to Mukinbudin, 39.52 klms, Avg speed 11.2 kph, Cycling time 3.30 hrs; Total kms 18,623.52

I don’t think we’d have got much sleep in the laundry as the wind howled during the night and was blowing a gale this morning.  “Which way is that wind blowing?” I asked knowing what the answer was going to be, it definitely wasn’t going to be pushing us along, we were heading ESE and that’s exactly where the wind was coming from.  We had no option but to get on that saddle and start pumping those legs to battle 40 kph winds with gusts of 55 kph.  Luckily it was cool for most of the ride, only 14C when we left and even though it was a slow grind we arrived 3.5 hrs later after cycling 40 klms.  I’m still not sure how we managed it, it could have been that I knew over the next 4 days we’d be living in comfort, once again, in a converted railway cabin at the Shire owned Caravan Park that had comfy beds, fridge, air con & tele & all for the bargain price of $30 pn, some of the best value accommodation we’ve come across.  The town of Mukinbudin (known locally as Muka) is 296 klms NE of Perth with the population of the Shire being approx. 800.  It was settled by pastoralists in the 1870s, who took up large leases in excess of 20,000 to run sheep, by Sandalwood cutters & miners en-route to the goldfields.  Today it’s main industry is wheat with the town being serviced by a supermarket, butcher, cafe, pub, bank, hairdresser & many more facilities including an Olympic sized swimming pool & sports field.  Spectacular electrical storms can be experienced in Jan & Feb & Muka was hit by a storm last week toppling many trees & causing power outages.  Again we were lucky to avoid this storm too.  As we arrived into town the storm damage became more obvious.  Fallen braches and trees pushed to the side of the road combined with damaged fences and sand and small stones still on the road having been washed there by over 100mm of rain that fell in less than an hour. The annual rainfall for the area is usually about 300mm, although only 90mm fell last year, this deluge was almost entirely useless as the harvest, or what there was of it, finished two months ago and sowing of this year’s crop won’t start until April.  We really live in a country of weather extremes.  We sit in our little, comfortable & clean railway cabin watching and listening to news of the flood clean up in southern Qld, the States biggest, ofCategory 5 Cyclone Yasi in north eastern Qld, the country’s biggest, hitting many of the places we’ve visited, the ongoing and increasing floods in north western Victoria and now the fires in the Perth hills, where the number of houses burnt to the ground is currently 72, not to mention farm sheds, vehicles, wildlife, stock, pets, but fortunately no people, yet.... Greg continues to walk about the place muttering to himself or anyone silly enough to listen that “the whole country is cactus!”  He may well be right.

February 8 — Mukinbudin to Westonia, 84.10 klms, Avg speed 16.0 kph, Cycling time 5.15 hrs; Total kms 18,707

“Most pleasant” was Greg’s feedback about today’s ride—long, gradual rises & corresponding descents, slight tail wind for last 30 klms & very little traffic.  I’d agree with him + add that with no cloud cover + 5 plus hours in the direct sun it was pretty hot for me.  We arrived in Westonia just before midday & after lunch headed to the local pool with free entry, 1 of us went for a swim, not me, the water was freezing.  Westonia’s a pretty town & won the 2010 State Tidy Town Competition.  It’s  “Where the Wheat belt meets the Goldfields”.  Stunning natural woodlands, breathtaking granite outcrops, beautiful wildflowers between July & Oct & vast open skies make the Westonia Shire, 316 klms east of Perth a lovely place to visit.  The town was named after Alfred David Weston, a sandalwood cuter & part time prospector.  He discovered gold near Boodain Soak in 1910 creating a rush of prospectors in the area.  By the 1930’s the district had been extensively developed for agriculture.  Wheat & sheep farming still sustain the district even as the search for gold continues as was evident in the Caravan Park & at the Westonia Tavern.  Over the past 5 years the miners have moved in so the town is full of blokey fellas running around in their white utes & hi viz work gear, living cheek by yowl in dongas at the Caravan Park & filling the Tavern on a Wed night when “Skimpy Becky” is behind the bar.  The locals don’t seem to mind the invasion and it’s clearly evident that mining money has been spent in town, but for us it reignites a loathing of everything to do with mining and what it does to the people it employs and the communities it operates within. These of course include, cars with flags and flashing lights, everything beeps at you, safety signage everywhere to cater for those that can’t think for themselves, mine prices for food, drinks and accommodation, oafish behaviour, the list goes on. Maybe it’s us that have to change, but we think we’d rather not be anywhere near mining activity of any kind.

February 9 — Westonia to Merredin, 49.83 klms, Avg speed 17.1 kph, Cycling time 2.54 hrs; Total kms 18,756

Overcast with pretty strong side winds but once we hit the Great Eastern Highway, now heading back West to Goomalling, we had tail winds.  Surprisingly the Highway was relatively quiet with a wide shoulder so we didn’t bother to seek out an alternative route to ride to Merredin.  Merredin “Heart of the Wheat belt” (pop 3,000 town, rural 630) is the most substantial settlement in the Central Wheat belt & was developed from the turn of the century to service the railway to the goldfields & the surrounding farming district.  Around 40% of WA’s wheat is grown within a 100klm radius of the town.  The name is derived from the Merritt trees, a eucalyptus tree once used by the Aborigines to make spears.  Because it’s hot we’re staying in backpacker lodgings at the Caravan Park for $40 pn for the next 4 nights with 3 lots of bunk beds, air con & a tele.  This was the only cheap accommodation left, the rest (cabins, caravans & dongas) being totally booked out by workers installing 130+ wind turbines close by.  We’ve been assured that we’ll have this donga all to ourselves but I think Greg is secretly hoping we’ll be bombarded by some nubile backpackers during our stay.  I suspect he’s bound to be disappointed. We spent the next few days coffeeing at the pretty good cafe behind the Post Office, cooking, including a roast lamb dinner Greg did in the oven that was supposed to last two dinner times but we scoffed the lot in one, and a visit to the very good railway museum which, as you would expect, is located in the railway station. A fair bit of reading, along with a reasonable dose a lethargy meant we enjoyed our days in Merredin.

February 14 — Merredin to Nungarin, 42.13 klms, Avg speed 17.0 kph, Cycling time 2.28 hrs; Total kms 18,799

We tracked the wheat rail line from Merredin to Nungarin, this line only springs to life when the wheat is moved so it sits lifeless now, such a pity as passenger travel around the wheat belt towns would be so interesting.  Riding mild undulations against a strong side wind as we approached Nungarin we could see evidence of last Saturday’s “storm & tempest” when 130mms of rain fell in Nungarin over a short period and flooded parts of the town, including the WW11 Army & Heritage Museum.  Amazingly we keep dodging these storms.  We had sausage sangers that Greg cooked in the park before heading to the Heritage Museum to find a gang of volunteers cleaning up after the aforementioned storm. Some 300mm of water had passed right through the museum with the result that everything on the floor was sodden and some exhibits completely ruined. Never the less, we were guided around the museum by one of the volunteers and given a live commentary on what was left of the display. Nungarin (pop 300) is a small town with a magnificent pub owned by Bill and his beautiful puppy, Bella.  This is where we stayed the night, securely locked in our comfortable room as the place is said to be haunted! We could have stayed in the caravan park, but the pub was so cheap we thought, why not? And so we did. One of the reasons as because we had bought a fair amount of fresh food that we hadn’t managed to eat (amazingly) from Merredin and so we really needed a fridge which Bill kindly let us use.

February 15 — Nungarin to Trayning, 33.16 klms, Avg speed 17.7 kph, Cycling time 1.52 hrs; Total kms 18,832

With the wind in our favour & a short distance we reached Trayning (pop 492) in just under 2 hours.  Locals often say “how can you cycle in this hot weather?”  but with our early starts & short distances we often reach our destination by early morning.  This gives us plenty of time to have a cuppa, read the paper, stock up on supplies from the local store, book into our accommodation (caravan park, pub or cabin), do our washing, go to the local swimming pool, do some sightseeing around the town & then decide what/where we’ll eat that night—there’s usually only the pub to grab a bite to eat so we’ll eat there or cook something ourselves.  There are only 2 types of accommodation available at Trayning, a motel room attached to the pub for $72 (too expensive) or camping at the Shire owned caravan park for $5, perfect.  As storms are predicted this afternoon we’re sheltering on the veranda of the facilities block and this is also where we’ll sleep tonight.  There are 2 dining option here, either at the pub or a very cheap meal at “Frankie’s Cafe” for under $10 which is our choice.  Like many wheat belt towns, Trayning flourished in the early 1880’s with the goldrush, followed by a demand for wool and wheat after WW11 lasting till the mid 1950s.  Sadly an increase in salinity levels, the drought & low wool prices caused many to leave the land causing a loss of population in the region.  Houses are cheap, a local told us today the old, Heritage listed, Police Station has just been purchased for $15,000.  The Shire, however, has implemented a land conservation program aiming for sustainable land management practices for future generations. 

February 16 — Trayning to Wyalkatchem, 47.22 klms, Avg speed 18.2 kph, Cycling time 2.34 hrs; Total kms 18,8879

A beautiful rolling ride with great tail winds surrounded by golden fields of wheat.  Wyalkatchem or “Wylie” as it’s called by locals has a population of 620 & is a proud & hospitable town well endowed with services.  Sandalwood was a valuable commodity after the mid 1840’s followed by a vibrant farming community which has changed a lot over the years, with fewer farmers today and larger farms, 400 farms during the 70’s compared to approx. 40 in 2010.  Wyalkatchem has lots of attractions & is renowned for its unique wildflowers which are in abundance during Aug to Oct.  We don’t believe these wildflowers exist in WA as we haven’t seen any!  The Shire owned Caravan Park, deserted except for us, had a fabulous camp kitchen and individual en suite facilities (loo, shower & sink) for each traveller.  It was an exciting afternoon sheltering in the kitchen watching the storms shower us with heavy rain & lightening.  Luckily the grassed area at the park wasn’t too sodden to pitch the tent, if Greg had his way he’d sleep on the table in the kitchen, I didn’t fancy sleeping on the kitchen floor nor in the laundry.  With me having little sleep the night before sleeping in the laundry Greg kindly put up the tent and we both slept soundly.  Greg also cooked a chicken curry that night, he’s a fella with many talents, it was good too.

February 17 — Wyalkatachem to Dowerin, 37.51 klms, Avg speed 18.7 kph, Cycling time 2.00 hrs; Total kms 18,917

With another tailwind, an overcast sky, cool morning & a quiet, quiet road it only took us a couple of hours to get to Dowerin.  As we’re nearing the end of our circular ride it is getting hillier but it was still a fantastic ride.  We had a good coffee & scone at a newly opened bakery & chatted with the locals, within a short time you can usually get a feel of what the town/community is like.  Dowerin (pop 861) was first settled for agriculture in 1897, it’s a pretty town established in 1906 once the railway line was extended from Goomalling.  More than a century later agriculture remains the dominant business of the district with grain growing and sheep production for meat and wool.  I’d organised for us to stay at the pub as the local Caravan Park didn’t look that inviting so for $40pn we had a comfortable bed, air con, fridge & tele & free laundry facilities too. Dinner was less inspiring, I had eggs & bacon and Greg had what was described as chicken schnitzel, but looked like two crumbed thongs with the obligatory chips and salad. He ate it, but I’m sure there’s something wrong with him..... 

February 18 — Dowerin to Goomalling, 24.06 klms, Avg speed 21.1 kph, Cycling time 1.08 hrs; Total kms 18,941

3 weeks & 554 klms later we’ve just completed our circular ride of The Pioneer’s Pathway that traverses the Wheat Belt following the well worn trail many prospectors once took on their way to the Kalgoorlie Goldfields.  This scenic journey has taken us through expansive Wheat Belt farmlands & through attractive, small country towns.  This ride has been once of the most enjoyable we’ve done, so much so that next week we’ll be doing another circular ride, this one the Pathway’s to Wave Rock, again through open Wheat belt country.  Today we’re staying again at Goomalling at the excellent Shire owned Caravan Park and it’s Friday night where the Bowling Club serves delicious Fish & Chips for $8.   A rare event happened today, Crazy Ruby got a flat tyre, we’ve had so few and again it was caused by the tyre liner.  We’re jinxed with using Goomalling Swimming Pool — 3 weeks ago it was closed when the storm came through, today it was closed for maintenance work!

February 19 to 20 — Goomalling to Northam, 47.59 klms, Avg speed 18.4 kph, Cycling time 2.34 hrs; Total kms 18,988

Another brilliant ride surrounded by fantastic views.  We’re staying at Northam (pop 10,600)for a couple of days, it’s the largest agricultural township in the state & is situated amid rich & fertile farmlands with the Avon River flowing through the town when it rains, currently the river bed is dry.  After being the only tourist travelling through the small Wheat Belt towns it’s a bit of a shock to be staying in a crowded caravan park and dealing with shopping malls! True to form, within minutes of arriving in town we’d found a very good cafe/restaurant. So with Hi-vis tops and all sweaty we sat ourselves on leather seats and enjoyed the best cup of coffee we’ve had for a while, while we pawed over the menu drooling over what we might have on a return visit.  It was then Greg looked up and said to me “I’ve got one thing to say to you, lunch, tomorrow”.  We did the supermarket thing and went back to the caravan park to catch up on a few things.  Dinner was meat balls, Arribiata sauce and sketty, as Greg insists on calling it.  Northam Caravan Park was not really to our taste with a lot of permanent residents and a pretty ordinary camp kitchen so we didn’t spend a lot of time there.  On the Sunday the weather forecast was for rain but virtually none fell so we went and had a look at the town which is situated on the Avon River and has some lovely buildings and parks.  We coffee’d at the Book Shop Cafe (very nice too) and then had a quite good long lunch at the pub before heading back to the caravan park to make preparation to leave the next morning.

February 21 — Northam to York, 39.30 klms, Avg speed 15.6 kph, Cycling time 2.16 hrs; Total kms 19,028

We couldn’t wait to leave the Caravan Park so left a day earlier.  Our track to York was via Spencers Brook Road, picturesque, quiet albeit windy.   York (pop 3,200) is a very pretty historic town & was the first inland settlement in WA.  Because it’s only 97 klms east of Perth it’s a popular tourist town, lucky for us it’s mid week so very quiet.  Lucky for us too there was Jules Cafe in town dishing up a decent cup of coffee.  Greg went to the Post Office to pick up some goodies waiting for us — a warmer sleeping bag for him, a couple of Kindles (ebook readers), a cycle lock we left behind at Koorda, a reference from our House Sit at Perth & my NSW Driver’s Licence renewal.  We’re staying in York for 4 days. The York caravan park is in a quite spot adjacent to the race course.  Like most of York, the caravan park had recently had a lot of storm damage with a buggered pool and trees down all over the place . This is of some interest to us as while our tent doesn’t like days in the direct sun as it damages the material, it’s also not all that fussed on branches falling from above and crushing it and possibly us to death.  So after some discussion we pitched the tent under a relatively small tree in the shade a took on some risk.  We’re here today, so the risk paid off.  The park had a pretty good camp kitchen and we pretty well had it to ourselves, so as is our habit, we coffee’d in town in the morning, did some sight seeing and ate dinner back at the park.  On our final evening there the owner, and Irish immigrant, gave us his world view on everything from politicians, the oil price, Australia’s immigration policy and moooslums.  I wonder as an immigrant himself he saw the stupidity of his views, we think not. 

February 24 — York to Quairading, 75.21 klms, Avg speed 14.0 kph, Cycling time 5.22 hrs; Total kms 19,103

We arrived in Quairading (pop 600) just before midday, just before the sun burst through the cloud cover to make us hot & sweaty.  The forecast of hot conditions & relatively strong head winds saw us leave York at 5.45am.  Considering the conditions we enjoyed the ride, Greg seeing a dead rat & large bird along the way.  It also helped that we knew there was a cafe along the way at Kauring, it’s in the middle of nowhere and did serve a decent cup of Vittoria coffee.  The road wasn’t that busy but everybody seemed in a rush this morning and wanted to kill us.

Quairading (pop 1,200) is a farming community producing cereal & grain crops, wool, sheep, cattle & Rural Service industries.  Perth has just broken its record for the greatest number of consecutive warm nights.  The minimum overnight temp remained above 20 degrees for 14 consecutive nights, breaking the last record set in 1990.  There have also been 21 consecutive days of temps over 30 degrees.  Quairading reached 42 degrees, no camping for us while we’re here, we’re sleeping in air conditioned comfort in  backpacker accommodation at the Railway Barracks.  Being Thursday night in Quairading meant that it was skimpy night so how could we decline the temptation?  We arrived at the pub with some trepidation and we were indeed met by Skye the skimpy.  As Greg said, she was appropriately qualified for the job with bumps in all the right places and none in the wrong.  He also said he wasn’t sure if Skye was her name or the description of the contents of her head.  Anyway having been told by one of the patrons that he was surprised that there was a lady in the pub, we left and went to the Quairading Club.  Much more our demographic with a cleaner environment and less focused on the bar staff.  We drank lovely cold beer, it was still 39°C, and then headed to Daryls Diner at the local BP servo for a hamburger.  The temperature over the next few days is forecast to be at least 40°C so we’re staying put for 4 days.  Quairading has a nice pool, a reasonable supermarket, a pretty good internet connection and phone service, radio reception and our barrack is air conditioned.  However, the barracks were not all that clean and, having spent the first hour or so after our arrival with a broom, mop and disinfectant to not only our room but the bathroom as well, our first visit on Friday morning was to the local Shire Office who run the barracks to have a little chat. The result was that the cleaner was at the barracks when we returned armed with a stack of toilet paper and a bunch of excuses about what hadn’t been done and why.  During the afternoon more workers arrived to fix a faulty and dangerous light switch, a couple of light bulbs and a few sink plugs.  It still wasn’t all that clean when we left, but it was better.  Mmmmmm.  As we mentioned at the Shire office, for $41 a night we didn’t expect the Ritz, but we did think that a reasonable standard of cleanliness would/should be the starting point.  Having got that off our chests we headed off to look for a cup of coffee.  Not much luck here so we went back to the Quairading Club and had a cuppa there.  The next few days were spent dealing with the heat and doing what we could in the cool of the day.  The pool got a bit of a workout as did the air-conditioned Club where we enjoyed a pretty good meal on Friday night and a few more beers.  Getting washing dry was never a issue, and we took the opportunity while we could to work in the shade of the barracks to clean the bikes and splash a bit of oil around.  Greg made what he calls his vegetarian risotto, loaded with vegetables, stock, wine, cheese and bacon?  Mmmm.  So that was dinner for the next couple of nights.

February 28 — Quairading to Bruce Rock, 79.62 klms, Avg speed 14.2 kph, Cycling time 5.35 hrs; Total kms 19,182

Someone had mentioned at the Quairading Club that the road to Bruce Rock was flat, this obviously came from a car driver as it was far from flat, it had long, long hills on long, long straight roads.  We stopped for an orange and a rest at the small town of Shackleton, named after some bloke in a balaclava and continued on. With a pretty strong head wind I struggled on this ride and was pooped by the time we got here at midday.  The Shire of Bruce Rock and its townsite are situated in the heart of the Wheatbelt, 254km east of Perth.  It has a population of approximately 700 people, with 1200 people in the shire.  Bruce’s Rock is a low granite outcrop which lies to the east of the town.  It was named after the sandalwood cutter named John Rufus Bruce who set up his camp near a soak at the base of the rock.  We’re staying in Backpacker’s accommodation at the Shire owned Caravan Park, we’re the only ones in the Park and our Cabin accommodation is a bargain at $24 per night.  We’re getting a bit picky though as there’s no air conditioning, still, opposite our Cabin is the huge Olympic sized public Swimming Pool with water slide, I think we’ll be regulars for the next 3 days. The barman at the Quairading Club mentioned that the District Club at Bruce Rock had just had a lot of money poured into it and was well worth a visit.  So after we’d settled in at the Bruce Rock caravan park we went in search of the Bruce Rock District Club. There are few signs as it’s just recently moved to new premises, but after a bit of a walk around we found it located conveniently across the road from where we are staying.  While it was still very warm outside the Club was freezing and so after a couple of beers we were both relieved to get outside again and go back to the caravan park camp kitchen where I thrilled Greg with a chicken curry. Cooking is a bit of a competitive business for us and it’s a rare treat that I get to cook something without his invaluable assistance.  We’ll have a better look around Bruce Rock tomorrow. 

We discovered the Colonial Cafe that made an O.K cup of coffee, but it was the butcher up the road that really caught our attention.  He smoked his own bacon and hams in addition to making his own sausages.  We sampled them all over the few days we were in Bruce Rock and they were all beautiful, particularly the ham and bacon.  We’d actually forgotten how good it could be as we’ve been eating the water pumped supermarket crap for such a long time.  Bruce Rock is graced by a large outdoor amphitheatre in the main street that pumps out loud music for a couple of hours in the morning.  On the day we arrived, we assumed it was a concert or exercise class, but on closer examination the music was being played to a group of locked gates and grass...all very curious.  We also rode out of town to the town’s namesake Bruce Rock.  A good view was had from the top of the seemingly never-ending wheat and sheep fields.  We thought we were being organised by doing the washing late in the day and drying it on the line while we went for a few beers at the District Club across the road.  There was nothing wrong with the thinking, except Greg had failed to notice a warning on the laundry wall prior to hanging it all out.  There was the usual cussing and swearing when on our return from said few beers we both discovered that our clothes were wetter than when Greg had hung them out. Yep, thwarted by the dreaded sprinkler system....again!  We did manage to get them all dry before packing our panniers for tomorrow’s ride to Narembeen.  We hope to get away early as the forecast is a warm 38°C with not particularly favourable winds.