Posts Tagged ‘dirt road’

At the turn of the 19th century, the Hill 50 gold mine near Mt Magnet in Western Australia was the dominant mine in the area. It was regarded as a mine which would last forever. Through good times and bad, depressions and boom, its fortunes ebbed and waned. From it decline during the war years it raised itself back up to be Australia’s most profitable mine in the late 1950s.


When Hill 50 closed in 1976, it had produced 1.4 million ounces of gold from 3.6 million tonnes of ore for a value of A$700 million.


The once proud head frame stood silent witness as a procession of new owners tried their fortune.


The years have seen the surrounding landscape torn apart in the relentless quest for gold until only a small island of what once was, remained.


When the moon was full it was sometimes possible to glimpse the phantom miners as they started their shift and hear the strained protests of the old winder as it hauled it’s ghostly ore from the dark recesses below.


Truly a piece of Australian mining history and a testament to the dogged determination and pioneering spirit of those that came before us.

So today……..


    We blew it up!


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Our decision to do a cycling tour through the Netherlands came about after must discussion and toing and froing, the details of which I won’t bore you with. In essence, I had always wanted to do a long distance extended cycling tour and my wife, well she wasn’t that keen (and by that I mean she would rather have pulled out her nasal hairs one by one with tweezers).

_EBT5156Anyway as a compromise (for our first cycling adventure at any rate) we settled on a bike and barge tour. Now I’m sure there are seasoned cyclists out there who are rolling their eyes at this point thinking “Oh you’ve got to be kidding….. an organized tour? …. how very droll!” But an organized tour offered a lot of benefits for us first timers, especially as we only had a couple of weeks.


For a start we didn’t have to worry about any of the logistics. Our bikes were taken care of so we didn’t have to agonise over whether to take our own, hire or buy some over there.

Our accommodation and meals were taken care of which meant we didn’t waste time finding somewhere to stay at the end of each day and we didn’t have to carry all our worldly goods with us.

Someone else had already worked out the best and most scenic routes each day which saved us all that planning.

_DSC5728We had backup the whole time, which was reassuring seeing we had never ridden in Europe before support so it was nice to know that if we had a problem help was only a phone call away.

We used Boat Bike Tours http://www.boatbiketours.com/ and could highly recommend them though there are hundreds of similar setups out there which I’m sure are just as good.

So what were the Pros and Cons

Well on the Pro side, there are all of the above. We turned up, settled into our cabin and were set to go.

The food was superb (pretty important point after riding all day), the barge well equipped and the staff extremely helpful. Everything was extremely well organized and punctual (must be a dutch thing) if they said we were casting off at 5:00pm, you can bet we caste off at 5:00pm 🙂 P1020476

Good company. With everyone being pretty much around the same age (let’s say mature to be kind) and sharing an interest in cycling and travelling it was the perfect formula to form friendships and encourage conversation (the wine didn’t hurt either).

You got to skip the boring bits and you had all the benefits of a canal cruise.


Even though the daily rides were planned you didn’t ride as a group. We rode by ourselves most of the time occasionally meeting up with others in the group for coffee or lunch. This suited us right to the ground as it meant we could ride at our own pace and stop when and where we wanted. One day after spending the morning riding through some stunning coastal areas neither of us were overly enthused about the 20kms ride back to the barge through what promised to be (after the morning’s ride) some pretty ordinary scenery… so we opted for a long lunch, found a railway station and threw the bikes on the train and were happily sitting on the sundeck of the barge, wine in hand, when the others started rolling in.


For sightseeing cycling allows you to travel at a perfect pace. Fast enough to cover plenty of ground yet slow enough to allow you to savour the sights, sounds and smells. Beats the hell out of tearing up the road in a car or a bus.


As for the Cons, well there really weren’t any!   Some might complain the cabins were small (well they were at the budget end where we were), but you were only in them to get changed or to sleep so we didn’t find it a big deal (besides I work on a mine site and at least these cabins had a window and a view).

It’s probably more expensive than doing it yourself, I say probably because that’s going to depend on how long you’re going for. If you only have a week or so I’d say that they’re good value. If you have longer than that then I’d definitely look at doing myself.


From a photography point of view it would have been nice to have had the opportunity to sit up on the sundeck of an evening as the barge cruised to the next location but unfortunately that’s when the meals were served and the briefing for the next day’s ride took place……. just not enough hours in the day 😦


So how was our first cycle adventure? In a word – AWESOME. Next time hopefully we’ll have more time and will head out on our own. My advice, if you’ve thought you might like to do a bike trip, then bike and barge is a great way to give it a try.



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A sad day as we bid farewell to the ‘Green Beastie’. We thank you for years of faithful service. How many wonderful memories have you given us. Whether it was flooded creeks in the tropical rainforests of the north, the endless corrugations of outback Queensland or the vast expanses of the Gulf country or the back of Bourke you offered starry nights, bottles of port, campfires, friends and the freedom of the road.

2007-11 002 Pathfinder Cooarr Beach

2007-11 004 Pathfinder Walker Point Leichhard's Lagoon, Norman River, Normanton

Anthills, Normanton, Queensland Mitchell River, Riversleigh, Lawn Hill National Park

2012-06 015 Kalbarri Holiday WA 2012-10 002 Road trip through Northern Goldfields

2012-10 012 Lake Ballard 2012-10 014 Walga Rock Cue

2013-04 014Shark Bay, Coral Coast, WA

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John Williamson (Australian songwriter and performer) got it in one.  The night sky this week has been amazing, almost sad to have to fly back to windy wet Perth.











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Went for a walk around Point Peron the other afternoon, when the weathers nice it’s great but when the weathers nasty it’s better

_IBT0806 Panorama

_IBT0745 Panorama

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If the walls of this old miner’s hut could talk I bet they’d have some tales to tell.






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