Day 9 - Billabong to Nanga Bay 140km

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After a night in tents at Murchison River, the best thing about Billabong was that we had a bed and a roof over our head, along with a shower! The food was also great and they did neat coffee. Breakfast provided an extensive menu, which is always popular with cyclists. Those who ordered muesli received a ‘bucket’ size serve, Sandra and I, which proved beneficial as we had a 140km ride ahead of us to Nanga Bay.

We set off at 7:30am from Billabong to quiet Sunday morning traffic and it seemed no time before we had covered the 47km to morning tea at the Overlander Roadhouse, where we had an array of enticing delights served with a smile from the All Trails Cafe! On the road again, we quickly made a left hand turn and we were heading to Hamelin Bay, home of the Hamelin Pool Cafe and the Stromatolites. Along the way we spotted a couple of sprightly kangaroos, which were received with a cheer of delight by our Scottish cyclist! The wildlife didn’t finish there, with a family of goats heading into the scrub as we rode on by on our way into lunch.

Hamelin Pool Settlement was notable for the following:
· A telegraph station and post office was established in 1884
· A woolshed that was government funded in 1922 to a cost of 400 pounds

The extraordinary natural features off the shore line are the microbial mats and stromatolites that are displayed in various sizes and types from a boardwalk. In essence, the mats begin when certain bacteria creating a stable environment for other bacteria. The bacteria combine with loose particles and create part of the mat. This continues over centuries building a layered mat surface under the water that attracts an array of marine life.

After a hearty lunch at the Hamelin Pool Cafe, that included tea and scones, we set off to ride the remaining 50km to Nanga Bay. The riding conditions were almost perfect, with the sun shining and a light wind. As we negotiated the rolling coastal hills, an emu was spotted on the side of the road looking about as bewildered to see a cycling peloton as many of the coastal weekenders. Thankfully, it decided to head up the embankment and not dart across the road in front of us.

A cycling highlight for me today was finding a burst of speed up a hill and I was first to the top! I apologise if this was poor etiquette, but when the legs say go...

It was an exciting ride down into Nanga Bay and we were soon settled into what appears to be an idyllic location, with brilliant blue water and white sands.

I am looking forward to a rest day here tomorrow.

Richard Cooke