Murphy's Tank, Yalgorup National Park – Jan 16, 8:00 pm
Upon leaving the road house, the scenery changed dramatically; the highway opened up and so did the land. There were verdant gum trees on either side of me. It was green on top with golden grass below, interspersed with light-green spiky bushes. With some cold fluid in me and a light rest out of the sun, came new life. Traffic lightened up, and I felt the miles melt beneath me. It was still quite hot, so when the lonely trees at the next road house presented themselves, I took them up on their offer for shade (no use in overworking myself, right?). At this rate, I thought I’d be there in no time. The road house claimed to be the “Center of the Universe.” Living so close to my own “Center of the Universe” (Freemont) in Seattle, it left me to wonder just how many “Centers” there were and which one was real. Perhaps Einstein or “string theory” can determine this.
Again rested, the miles melted away until the turn off. I was tired, but ready for the last push of the day to Preston Beach. My other knee was starting to bother me, and I was looking forward to making dinner in the shade by the water. The next 30 minutes were hilly, but I swore I could feel that beach coming. When the paved road ended in white sand and gravel, I figured it was just over the hill. It couldn’t be more than 500 meters, right?
Roughly a kilometer in I had traded my bike shoes for flip-flops and my helmet for my wide-brimmed cowboy hat. A handkerchief to keep the sun off my neck completed the ensemble. I was taking turns pushing and riding my bike in the sand and rock and cursing everyone who ever went over 30 km on the gravel road and helped create the bumps that were taking there toll on my rear. Every 50 meters or so, the sand would get too deep, and I would have to push.
But, it was worth it; it was so worth it. I kept telling myself this, and my standards began to drop. First, I just hoped it really was a beach. Second, I just wanted a campsite. Lastly, I just hoped to heaven that I would not have to turn around and go back this afternoon. I passed a broken down car and a couple with two kids – electrical problems they said. They did not need help. A few more cars passed me, and I felt from their looks of indifference that a great Western Australian beach was right around the corner. I spooked two Kangaroos who were hunkered down right next to the road. They crashed through the bush on their powerful hind legs leaving nothing but silhouettes. Down the last hill, I saw the turn off to the campground called “Martin's Tank” .9km away. My motivation was renewed, but quickly vanished as the road turned inland.
The motivation never came back. The white sand of the road gave way to the light brown of the bush campsite, and near as I could tell, Martin's Tank was was nothing but a brackish inland lake with some trees around it and some rancid looking foam around the edge of the shore.
This was not fun, but had I not gone down this path, I would not have meet Kai, Corinne, and their two lovely kids. They are taking ten weeks with their 3- and 5-year-old daughters to see Australia from Cairns to Perth. It was nice to have someone to commiserate with, and they were excellent company when I needed it most. When they found out I was leaving at 2 a.m. the next morning to beat the heat, they gave me an extra liter of water and a sandwich (no Vegemite).
However, I think the 5 of us feel that Martin can have his tank and have the best of luck with it.