Day 16 - Coral Bay to Giralia 106km

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Back in the saddle today after an amazing day cruising in the Indian Ocean snorkelling and swimming with the gorgeous Whale Sharks.

After leaving Coral Bay we left the coastline and began our tract north and inland towards Giralia Station. Light headwinds (17 km/h) in the morning session made us work a little harder but working as a team the ‘6 pack’ (START team) were able to make good time averaging around 24-25 km/h. As we moved away from the coast the scenery really changed to more undulating and a lot more scrub and sparse bush littered with increasing numbers of Termite mounds and native tomatoes plants with their beautiful purple flowers these being mainly at the roads edge. Following 60+ mm rainfall late last week it was amazing to see the native grasses responding to the stage of a good green covering across much of the now grazing country as we move into the Pilbara region of WA.

At the 65 kms mark we turned right onto Burkett Road where we started to see more and more gum trees in the landscape. After a few km’s we entered Bullara Station for morning tea that included homemade scones (jam & cream of course), coffee, hot chocolate and pots of tea. It was a peaceful setting for a well earned rest. This is a working cattle station, not that we saw cattle around the homestead.

Then it was a quick ride (helped by more cross winds and beautifully orchestrated echelon amongst some of the riders) to our overnight destination and lunch at Giralia Station. Along this section we noticed a change in the wildlife calling cards telling us that there must be some camels (or elephants) in the area by the size of the pads on the side of the road. Giralia Station was run as a working sheep station until 2005, when the owners sold to the Department of Conservation and Land Management; it now operates as a outback stopover for visitors that travel this magnificent part of Australia.

Today was also a special day for one of our cyclists. Alasdair celebrated his birthday. A card was presented and “Happy Birthday” was sung with gusto at our first snack stop. It was fitting that Alasdair could order his favourite coffee at morning tea; a long black! At the briefing Alasdair read out his card and was clearly touched. He also shared with us that his wife had planted a present and card in his bag before he left Melbourne. Alasdair reinforced how much he is enjoying this trip and in spite of some of the challenges, he is having a wonderful holiday!

Richard Cooke