After leaving Darwin on November 18th I finally arrived in Federation Square at approx 13.45 on December 19th - my 50th birthday. I have covered some 3935 kms (2459 miles). Despite leaving on 18th November I had some 9 days rest which meant that I covered the total distance in 23 days at an average of 171 kms (107 miles) per day when I was actually cycling.

Even though I have stopped my ride, the journey for the charities continues. So please remember to spread the word for the charities and help us reach the all important goal of £50,000.


22 December 2009

Although my ride is over I feel that there are so many people I should thank for helping me achieve my goal and in turn raise much needed money for the charities. First and foremost all those companies and individuals on the sponsors page. So in no particular order I would like to thank the following:

Everyone who has followed my progress via the website and who have taken time to leave messages in the guest book. These were always fun to read and help to keep me focused on the job in hand.

Everyone who has donated to the charities. I know that the money raised will be put to good use and enable the charities to continue their superb work,both in the UK and Australia.

All those of you who have kept me in your prayers and thoughts over the last 4-5 weeks.

Mrs Felicity Dahl who upon hearing of my idea swung into action and got Gareth Evans from Oantas on board who in turn agreed to cover the cost of my flights to and from Australia. A huge thank you to both of them - see sponsors section

Tony, Jenny, Tim, Oliver and Bronte Correy who not only collected me from Sydney airport and put me up for the night before flying out to Darwin but also came down to see me in Bendigo and then onto Melbourne for the finish - what great friends.

Chad who collected me from Darwin airport put me up for the night and drove around Darwin helping me get together all the last minute items.

Charlie Shannon and his girlfriend Helen: They put me up for a night in Katherine and got me back on track after the dreadful start.

Libby Prell and Tony Smith: I had never met before, but after just one phone call, very kindly put us up for 3 nights in Alice Springs.

Brent and Sue Fletcher: Allowed us to stay in their annexe both before and after getting to Adelaide. This enabled me to store the bike and get down to Adelaide a day early to surprise the girls.

Holly and Geoff Prest: Holly became known as the Aussie logistics manager as she seem to conjure up contacts along the entire Stuart Highway - I am just sorry that I was not able to take up some of the kind offers. She was also a great source of strength to Kate and the girls as well as being a superb host for us all in Adelaide for 3 days.

Philip Vaughan-Fowler and Ben Santamaria - my brother and nephew: These two were the slient support team back in the UK. They sorted out issues like the website including the blog, GPS and basically all those little fiddly things that enabled me to get on with the job in hand. I cannot thank them enough for all the work they did in the background, the never ending support they showed together with the moral support they gave to Kate and the girls.

My Two Wing Men: Carlos (the Good Samaritan) and Edward (my nephew) - I have written much about these two, suffice to say that they kept me focused on the job in hand and were fun to be with and helped keep me going towards Fed Sq.

James Vaughan-Fowler -my brother. For all his help with CBL Electric Vehicles in putting together the box for my trailer. Although I didn't use it for the whole trip, it was so well made I did bring it home.

John and Alex Eyers: My sister and brother in law for helping Edward be the Wingman that he was.

Soonie and Joseph: My sister and brother in law for having us to stay in Melbourne for the next 2 weeks - again - sorry but you know you love me really and I am your favorite brother!!

Last but not least, Kate and the girls: Over the last 11 months they have had to put up with an awful lot. I thank them for allowing me to fulfil this dream and help others in the process. Kate has been so amazing and continues to support me as I suffer from PCD (Post Cycling Depression!). I don't think they realise how much I love them all. Thank you for all  your help.

19 December 2009: Bulla to Federation Square. Distance 38 Kms

How sad to wake up on my own on such a big day - my 50th birthday and the end of my great adventure. But to wake up in such a grotty motel  (3rd worst on whole trip) just made it even sadder. Still that was my choice so I only have myself to blame. Had fabulous text message from eldest brother congratulating me on my "monster achievement" and from my nephew Ben telling me to "just pause for a moment to realise just how awesome what you've achieved is."

I've never taken so long to get ready but this enabled me to have a few moments to myself - not that I haven't on this trip - but this was different, as I was coming to the end of 10/11 months of planning and action, not to mention the impact that has had on my family. I left Bulla at approx 09.00 in low grey clouds with light drizzle. and was soon at Tullamarine airport where I stopped to watch and take a photo of a 747 coming into land. Even after all this time ,I am still amazed how something so big can stay up - I've asked myself the same question many times!!

Despite signs saying "No pedestrians, animals and bicycles" I carried on along the Freeway working on the basis that if the Police do stop me they will at least tell me the correct way to go. As the toll booths got closer, I decided to pull off at Essendon and take the road that runs parallel to the freeway. At a set of lights, I tapped on the passenger window of a lady's car. She swung around, took one look at me, hit the central locking button and shot off through an amber light. I was most upset as I had even shaved this morning. Managed to check directions with another motorist who had taken pity on this somewhat bemused cyclist, and carried on along Keilor Rd into North Essendon village where I stopped for breakfast. No, it wasn't iced coffee and a snicker bar but eggs benedict and a cappuccino - well,I thought I deserved a treat and quite a change from the usual.

With the city skyline getting ever closer at what seemed like an ever increasing rate of knots, I decided to stop for another coffee. The crossiants looked so good that it seemed silly to have come this far and not try one. I must say it was the right decision. To think that in the last hour I had more coffee that I had had in the last weeks. I had a wonderful surprise when my brother Philip and his wife Emma phoned to wish me a happy birthday.

As I was now only about 4km away I set off again but not before sending Kate and the girls a text, well 3 actually, to make sure they were in Fed Sq. No reply so I waited and waited. I certainly didn't want to get there before Kate. Still no reply. Surely their phones were on, they couldn't have turned them off now - could they? Who, I thought would have their phone - Edward of course. So at 13.04 I sent him the same text and back came the reply "Everyone here just waiting for you"

Off I went. How ironic that after 3900 kms I would be late for my own celebrations. Just to make matters worse it seemed that all the traffic lights were against me. Finally, as I approached the city, I stopped at yet another set of lights and took the opportunity to ask a young couple in their car the way to Fed Sq.
"Do you live here?" I asked. "Yes" they replied. "Great, can you tell me the way to Fed Sq?" "I think it is left here and then right into Flinders Street or is it right here and then left into Flinders St."

With the lights changing they moved off. I was none the wiser but had to follow the road around to the left and quickly dived to the side to ask again. "Turn right and I think it is somewhere along there." As he seemed only a little more certain I decided to cut across the traffic, much to the annoyance of several cars and head off. Seeing two cyclists ahead I thought I would get one last check. "Carry on and it's on your left just before the bridge."

And there it was. As I entered I could see Tony and Jenny Coorey in their Top 2 Bottom T shirts and then looking to my left I saw everybody else in their Top 2 Bottom T shirts cheering and clapping. As I got off my bike Kate came forward and gave me a huge kiss and hug. Thank goodness I had my sunglasses on so no one could see the tears. I had done it. This 50 year old had done it ,I had cycled from Darwin to Melbourne! I just wanted to hug and kiss everyone I was so excited at acheiving this. Emily-Rose, Alice, Tilly and Kitty all came over and had huge hugs and kisses. My sister Susan, who I later discovered had, with her husband Joseph, been to Mass everyday I had been riding, also got a huge kiss and hug. Her sons Jerome, John-Paul and daughter Clare were also there but their other children Helen (was working) and Ben was in London  Others there included Tim, Oliver and Bronte Coorey, Damien Woods, Nick and Cassandra Woods and their 3 children, Barry and Mary Helen Woods, Paul Santamaria, as well as Judith Mooney from Parkinson Victoria who had found time on a Saturday morning to see me finish. And of course there was Edward Eyers who had brought along a load of his friends. Even though I had seen him only 8 days ago I still cannot really show my appreciation for all he did in helping me get to this point. He just says that it was great to be part of something so awesome. But he helped it become something so awesome, for which I will always be indebted to him.

As if the celebrations for finishing weren't enough, suddenly the band, whom I hadn't really noticed, started to play Happy Birthday and everyone started to sing along. Kate had arranged this - she doesn't miss an opportunity. I hit the GPS button one more time and was told by Tim Correy that it showed me in Fed Sq. We then made our way to the banks of the Yarra for a wonderful picnic which gave me a chance to spend time with all those that had turned up. Luckily the sun had come out by now, although I don't think I would have noticed it if hadn't, as I was on such a high!

18 December 2009: Bendigo to Bulla. Distance 138 kms (86 miles): Time in Saddle: 6 hours 18 mins

Today was quite a small day by usual standards. It was great to be back on the bike knowing that the end was so close. Before I could get going, I had a commitment to keep at Big Hill Primary school. I woke up a little later than I had hoped and so caught a cab to the school. En route, the driver was so intrigued by what I had done that he stopped the meter half way to the school.

At school I gave a talk based on how I was just an ordinary guy who had set out to do something a little bit different. I told them that once they have set their mind on something that they must not be put off by all the people who tell them that they cannot do it. I came across a lot like that in England - many of whom had never been to Australia, let alone even knew where the Stuart Highway was. One thing I didn't do was listen to enough people that had done similar trips. If I had, I may not have even tried with the trailer. That said, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Maybe I just wanted to see if it was possible - next time! I told them what a scary feeling it is to step out of your comfort zone, but what an amazng feeling of achievement it is to step out and achieve what you set your sights on. I told them of some of the magical, funny and lonely moments of undertaking such a long trip but how the friemds and support that I had helped me to get to where I was. This, I said, is important when they set out on their trips. Find someone, be it through their teachers, family or friends, that they aspire to and then go and talk to them. Learn as much as possible from them so that you do not repeat the same mistakes that they did - why re-invent the wheel? It was such a fantastic opportunity to be able to give a talk such as this and I must thank Peter Nash for givig me the chance.

Back at the campsite I got myself ready to leave knowing that tonight I would be staying on my own before heading into Federation Square (Fed Sq). Despite looking at the alternative routes, I ended up on the Calder Highway. I left at around 13.30 and by 14.00 was passing Big Hill school. I now know where the name comes from as just after the turning to the school the hill becomes quite steep and continues to climb for some time. At the top, the hard shoulder gives way to a gutter which I had to cycle along for some 100-150 metres but then the descent starts and boy was that fun! I had to remember that I was still on the main dual carriage way and so had to keep reminding myself to keep to the left. As the other side of the road was some 50-100 metres away. There were times when it was rather strange riding all alone only hearing the sound of the cars on the other side.

At places the road was so smooth that I was flying along and was soon picking off towns such as Harcourt and then heading off towards Kyneton after passing signs to places like Malmsbury - not the first familar sign as one to Romsey and Daylesford were to appear later in the afternoon. Originally I had thought that I would aim for Gisborne but was making such good time that I decided to carry onto Sunbury. Just before Gisborne I came across the sign for Hanging Rock. For some reason I was immediately transported back to Cokethorpe and the Corinthian Room full of frustrated teenagers watching Jenny Agutter reveal all while she swam about in a most innocent way in another Australian classic Walkabout!

I pulled off the Calder and headed off towards Sunbury - home of The Ashes, which if I am correct, we Poms currently hold! Maybe that would explain why this Pom could not find a place to stay. The motel was full and the hotels didn't have any accomodation. After cycling around for some 45 minutes I decided that, while there was still some daylight, that I would head for the next town of Bulla. I thought the hill by Big Hill was fun but the one coming into Bulla top them all. As I was flying down the hill I noticed the speed signs going down from 85 to 65 to 35kph and the signs for the corner at the bottom seem to get sharper. Even I had to slow down, which was just as well as there was not much to protect you carrying on. Wow, this is such fun I thought, only to turn the corner and see the mother of all hills climbing up in front of me - luckily it wasn't too long a hill and before long I was at the Bulla motel. Was it worth the climb - I think not! If I hadn't got to be somewhere before dark and Radio Oxford weren't calling to carry out another interview, I would have carried on. It was the sort of place that due to the clientele hanging around and the fact the they had a huge bingo night on, I ended up putting a chair across the front door!

Ali from Radio Oxford called at around 21.00 to record an interview for her afternoon show which seemed to go well and also asked me to come in when I get back. Spent too long "thinking" in my room that I missed the kitchen in the motel - mind you schnitzel and chips again would have been nice!! Ended up having what all long distance cyclists have - Cascade beers x 2, bag of peanuts and dorritos. With nothing else to do, I  watched the film "Flood" - should have guessed the end as it was so predictable. It was one of those "I've just wasted 2 hours of my life" moments - mind you, by the time you've added on the adverts, which Oz seem to fit in evry 10 minutes, it is probably more ike 3 1/2 hours of wasted time. Must remember to include "Not watch so much TV" in my New Years Resolutions! That said, I didn't watch that much leading up to the ride but may now feel that as I have nothing "big" in my life that I have the time - think what can be done and achieved if we didn't rely on TV?!

17 December 2009: Bendigo. Time in saddle: Nil

Spent the morning at the campsite with Kate doing what she does best - the laundry. The difference between here and the UK is that it was dry within an hour of being put on the line! Well the rain that they forecast duly arrived at lunch time and we happened to be at the swimming pool where the temperature had dropped considerably, and even we hardy Brits felt a little chilled - well so would you if it had dropped by some 15-20 degrees. At one point Kitty was about the only person still swimming and singing in the rain - which was a pain for the poor life guards who probably wanted to come in out of the rain!

While having a drink I got chatting to a teacher from Big Hill primary school at Kangaroo Flat just outside of Bendigo about my ride. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had agreed to go into the school tomorrow at 09.00 to talk about the ride.

Spent the afternoon dodging the rain and puddles in our thongs. Even managed to do some Christmas shopping and got my haircut as 4 weeks in a cycle helmet has done nothing to help my receding hairline and bouffant helmet look!

16 December 2009: Bendigo. Time in saddle : Nil

It was lovely to have a civilised breakfast rather than snacking on protein bars while listening to "slit your wrist" songs on the Ipod! At 11.00 the Cooreys, who have flown into Melbourne from Sydney for Saturday, arrived for the day, which was a wonderful surprise. We spent the day with them at Bendigo Aquatic Centre where it reached 44 degrees with a very warm wind. Bendigo is an elegant town that owes it original wealth to the gold mining boom. The architecture still has signs of a prosperous past and has a very pleasant feel to it. We had dinner at the Hotel Shamrock, followed by pudding at ColdRock ice cream parlour. An amazing place with loads of flavours and a vast selection of things you can add to your ice cream. It seemed to me that the only thing that they didn't have to offer as an add on was Pedigree Chum!! Walking back to the car, a white tailed spider fell on Tim, luckily only brushing his aim as it fell. A bite from a white tail, especially a hungry one, can have dire consequences.

We bid farewell to the Cooreys until Saturday and returned to our motorhome - still 38 degrees at 19.30.

15 December 2009: Birchip to Bendigo. Distance 174 kms (109 miles) Time in saddle: 8 hours 57 mins.

Woken at around 03.30 by the sound of the train going through the town. After snoozing for a little longer I was up and on the road by 04.00. It suddenly dawned on me that after 4 weeks on the road this would be the last early morning ride. Despite all the various emotions I had had during the trip I felt a huge surge of sadness. This magical time of sometimes feeling that I was the only person for miles around to witness such superb sunrises was about to come to an abrupt end. As if on cue, the sky was lit up by 3 amazing shooting stars, one so bright that I could not but stop to take in what I had just seen. I carried on for a few more kms and stopped just before sunrise - not for a stretch or a bite to eat, but just to take in the peace and quiet of the moment - one that I will remember for a long time.

I reached Wycheproof after 1.35 hours of easy riding. I could have made it sooner but was putting off the inevitable of joining up again with the Calder Highway, which I had left the day before just after Ouyen, and all the dreaded grain trucks. From here I headed onto Charlton which is a lovely town sitting on the River Avoca, and then a quick 31 kms dash to Wedderburn, which was quite a contrast. Kate and I had arranged to meet up at Inglewood, but as I had got waylaid chatting to some guys in one of the roadhouses who could not believe I had come all the way from Darwin, I missed seeing her and the girls go pass.

I then headed onto Marong where we finally met up for a somewhat late lunch - poor girls had been there for over an hour, before pushing onto Bendigo where Kate had booked into the campsite. Bendigo is a city of some 100,000 people, and so was quite a shock to the system after all this time out on the open road - although the last few days had been getting me ready for what to expect. At the campsite Kate mentioned to the owner Ray about my ride, and before long we had been invited to have a BBQ with him his wife Anthea, and their children Ashley and Alex. It was such a wonderful way to not only end the day, but set us up for a few days on our own.

14 December 2009: Mildura to Birchip. Distance 232 kms (145 miles) Time in saddle: 12 hours 4 mins

Left at 03.30. It was a change to ride through a town at night and look at what all the various stores had to offer. Some 15 kms outside Mildura you come across the town of Red Cliffs which is home to Lindemans Winery. As the sun started to rise I could make out the silhouette of a large grain silo on the outskirts of a small town called Carwarp. This would turn out to be a very common sight in this area due to the amount of wheat and barley produced.

The road dipped down and round a left hand bend before straightening out. Ahead in the middle of the road were 2 kanagroos. At that moment a road train passed by - quite small by Northern Territory standards. The kangaroo on the right hand side shot into the undergrowth. The other turned and hopped in the same direction of the R/T. I waited for what semed ages for the inevitable. Still the R/T rumbled on. Maybe the kangaroo had been hit and thrown to the right. I was dreading seeing the carnage. Just then it appeared at the front left hand corner of the R/T and with everything seeming to be going on in slow motion, and wth one last almighty hop seemed to fly, probably helped by the wind from the R/T, into the undergrowth, As I came level with it I slowed down to see one very lucky kangaroo which seemed to be gathering its thoughts before bounding off as if nothing had happened.

Coming into Ouyen I came across a massive grain store owned by Graincorp. Trucks were coming and going the whole time throwing up huge clouds of dusts. These trucks were to prove a real problem as they all drove far too fast and would never give me much room. At Ouyen I stopped at the Queen Bee Roadhouse for a quick snack (BLT and Iced coffee) and to make some notes. Seemed to have been a long 97kms and I had a long push to make Birchip.

The road from Ouyen to Birchip was much the same as before namely huge wheat and barley fields on either side. Some of the fields were so big that these garin lorries went straight into the fields to get the grain direct from the combines. I stopped in the little town of Speed which despite its size had what seemed to have a thriving agricutural supplies company making the most of what was going on around. As the heat was starting to creep up I found myself starting to stop more often. One of the places I stopped at was Lascelles. The building must, in it heyday, have been a splendid hotel. Now it seemed to be the cafe, restaurant, village shop, post office and the all important bottle shop.

You could easily miss Woomelang on the map but it has another grain storage terminal dominating the skyline. It even had some retirement units - not for me yet. Not long after this Kate caught me up and stocked me up with some fabulous sandwiches and yet more drink. It also allowed me to have a rest at the height of the afternoon. Having ditched my back pack I headed off for Birchip. Kate went on ahead to book the campsite. For the last few kms the wind finally dropped and even changed direction to come slightly over my right shoulder, which made a change to the constant headwind I had had up until them.

When I arrived at the Birchip Motel and Campsite I was told by the owner that Kate and the girls were at the motorhome with the local press. Kate had been in the bakery where the lady asked what had bought her to such a remote town. When Kate explained, the women promptly took 50 dollars out of her purse as a donation to Parkinsons and then contacted her friend, who worked for the local Birchip paper. After this Kate and I asked the campste onwer where we could go for a drink. He explained that it was at the other end of the town and so told us to take his car and just handed over the keys - something I cannot imagine happening in the UK!

It had been a hard day cycle (not night) but had been worth it as I knew that the following day would be a shorter distance and would take me to Bendigo (only 174 kms) where I would have a few days with Kate the and girls before the final leg into Melbourne.

13 December 2009: Berri to Mildura. Distance 161 kms (100 miles) Time in Saddle: 7 hours 9 mins

Finally back on bike. Left rather late at 06.00 due to late night and being somewhat disorganised in that I had not got everything sorted out the night before. I had to dodge a kangaroo in the lane as I left. It was colder than I had hoped, so I stopped to put on my long sleeve shirt underneath my normal cycling top - gosh I looked glamorous. Just before crossing into Victoria, which I did at about 08.20, you pass under a bridge made in the shape of a giant tyre. I must say it looks a bit out of place in the middle of nowhere and I couldn't help but look around for all the race cars and crews etc. Crossing the state border also meant that I lost another 1/2 hour - something I can ill afford when nearing 50.

Stopped at Lake Cullulleraine for a stretch and quick bite to eat, before heading onto Merbein South, hoping that Kate would catch me up by then. Maybe she turned right out of Brent's house instead of left!! Not long after this, I became aware of something kerb crawling behind me. A white motorhome pulled up beside me, the window lowered and the dulcet tones of New College choir blaring out - what was I worrying about. Kate than went onto Mildura to book the campsite and I joined her some 45 minutes later. Edward wouldn't have taken that long to catch me up, but then again he didn't have 2 small girls to sort out. That said, I was very impressed that she had made it,  especially bearing in mind she hates driving at he best of times. We settled into the campsite where I took advantage of the pool to relax - first time on whole trip. Not long after I asked Kitty to get something from the motorhome. "I can't Daddy it's locked" she said. "It can't be" I replied. It was then that we realised that the dead lock had been put down by mistake with the keys still inside. With the help of a ladder from the campsite owner we managed to use Tilly's athletic skills and post her through a very small window, first removing the fly mesh. Crisis over we settled down for the night.

12 December 2009: Adelaide

Geoff took Emily and Alice to the airport before taking Kate and me to pick up the motorhome that would be my support vehicle for this last leg - wow it is quite something for a "small 4 berth". I cannot believe what they can pack into such a small area. Geoff and Holly supplied us with copious amounts of wine and chocolate (Whittakers) and a Christmas cake. They have been the most amazing hosts and nothing has been too much trouble. Holly, has been continually in the background supporting Kate prior to arriving in Adelaide. I am just sorry that I was not able to take up some of the contacts she had made along the route - some of whom lived and worked on these massive Australian hill stations - perhaps I will look back and think I should have slowed down.

I was becoming quite used to this relaxed existence but knew that we must return to Berri as I still had quite some way to go. We called in at Penrice (close to Anguston) the home of Tim Grainsbury's (current house sitter) parents. They live in this most fantastic Victorian colonial single storey house on a beautiful plot, and seem to have a wonderful work-life balance. They too gave us more goodies to take with us, including some cheese and biscuits from the Barrossa Valley cheese company and some Yalumba wine - their local; how tough is that to have that as your local.

Kate took over the driving to Berri. I've now stopped worrying about my ride and am instead worrying about her driving something the size of a bus into the wilderness, dodging kangaroos, with Christmas carols blaring from the CD player. We rushed straight to the Berri Resort Hotel so Kate could sample the Kangaroo fillet that I had raved about. We arrived at the Fletcher's, managing to avoid the low hanging trees, and after a late night drink with Brent and Sue hit the sack. 

11 December 2009: Adelaide

Lovely relaxed day. Had lunch with Kate the girls and Edward at one of the marinas in Adelaide. Ed then took the car back and got a plane home. Cannot tell how much he has helped me towards the end goal and it will be great to have him there at the finish line to join the celebrations. After lunch we arranged to meet Geoff and Holly before going onto the races where one of the horses they breed was running - didn't do too well. That said, Kate and Kitty did quite well over the course of the afternoon, not that form came into it, more whether they liked the horse or the colours the jockey was wearing. Strange to see so many people holding their Christmas parties at the sun filled race course.

Geoff and Holly took us on a tour of Adelaide which is such a beautiful place. Although it is small by the standard of most cities, it seems to have everything that one would need. We ended up having dinner at an Indian of all places, as it was one of the only places that had a table for 8. We couldn't get into our first choice as I was wearing thongs - no it's not what your thinking, I wasn't cross dressing - thongs are what Australians call flipflops. That said, the guy on the door hadn't noticed that Kate and the girls were also wearing them - perhaps he could see more than me!! Then home for rather large bowls of ice cream with slabs of chocolate - well I have to put the weight back on some how!!

Alice and Emily had arranged to fly up to Sydney to see their cousin Ellie, and then get the coach on Wednesday to Canberra to see my nephew Tom's 3 month old son, before getting the plane to Melbourne on Friday with Edward - thanks girls for spending the time with me!!

10 Dec 2009: Adelaide (driven)

No, I haven't given up.  As I mentioned yesterday, Ed needs to get back (apparently to work) on Monday so we decided to meet up with the girls in Adelaide slightly earlier, giving Ed time to fly back to the east coast of Australia.  I should point out that, because of this, the little green man on the bike won't move much for the next couple of days.  If he does, it means someone's stolen my stuff.

We arrived in Adelaide about 1300 to finally meet the infamous Holly and Geoff.  And what wonderful people they are too, not only for everything they've done up to now but to also put a family of six (plus stray nephew) up at such short notice, as I only phoned Holly last night to suggest that Ed and I drive to Adelaide.  I've been overwhelmed by the Aussie trait of offering incredible hospitality at the drop of a hat, just as Charlie & Helen did in Katherine, Libby & John in Alice Springs, and Brent & Sue in Berri.

The girls were out on a tour of Adelaide with Holly when we arrived but the reception was far better than I'd hoped for and it was great to see them after what seemed like such a long time.  Ed will be a hard act to follow, and has been passing tips onto Kate.  Hopefully she might listen to him, she certainly won't listen to me.  As this is the final blog of Ed's era I feel it only appropriate to thank him for all the help and constant words of encouragement during this middle section, which at times must have seemed to be dragging on forever.  It certainly did for me on the bike.  I will be so sad to see him go and wish him well back in the office.  As he has access to this section of the website I will know if any parts of the blog have been amended in his favour.  Boy isn't that Ed just awesome?!

9 Dec 2009: Burra to Berri. 194km (121 miles) Time in saddle 8h21m

Last night I had a great phone call from my friend John in Ireland, just calling to wish me well.  Had a late start, 0625, because I wanted to get photos of Burra in the morning sun.  It was much colder than I've been used to so for the first 25km I wore three layers.  Unlike yesterday, the road was empty with absolutely no wind.  The sky had a few high level, wispy clouds.  Generally superb cycling weather, not too hot but cool enough to make me keep warm by getting into a good rhythm.

With the iPod on I was soon picking off the 10km markers and it wasn't long before the sign read "Morgan 50km".  Just prior to this, the scenery changed from the rolling hills of yesterday to that reminiscent of the middle section of the Stuart Highway in South Ausrtalia - flat, parched, and empty.  The strange thing was I felt quite at peace all alone.  I thought the Stuart Highway was quiet but out here only about a dozen cars passed me the entire 83km from Burra to Morgan.

I stopped at a bakery in Morgan for, yes you guessed it, an iced coffee.  However this time with a donut and iced bun to accompany it.  Whilst there, I met a couple on their way to Port Augusta to pick up some English friends who had caught the train from Perth.  They were then going to take them north to Coober Pedy.  When I asked "Why Coober Pedy?" they told me it was because their friends just wanted to see Coober Pedy.  I told them they were very noble to spend their holiday in Coober Pedy.

Ed then joined me and we headed off towards Berri.  Berri is on the fringe of the Murray River and the scenery suddenly changes to vineyards run by the likes of Penfolds and Wolf Blass.  Ed and I saw a sign for an organic cafe offering all sorts of healthy goodies and were both disappointed as we individually passed by and found it closed on Tuesdays.  After weeks of schnitzels and roadside hamburgers the thought of vitamins and a view over the Murray River had a certain cache to it.  Ah well.

Arrived at Brent and Sue Fletcher's (Brent is a friend of my brother-in-law, Joseph) house, who had kindly offered us a cottage near their house for the night.  We dumped the bike and kit and went into Berri Resort Hotel for a kangaroo fillet, which was delicious.  Although it looked slightly familiar...  The sunset over the Murray as we headed home was spectacular.  Ed and I had already plotted that, as we had made such good progress and had a place to store the bike and trailer, we would drive into Adelaide the next day to surprise Kate and the girls when they arrived.

8 Dec 2009: Wilmington to Burra. 160km (100miles) Time in saddle 9h29m

Ed and I both thought that our hotel room in Wilmington was like stepping back into out respective dorms at Cokethorpe. Four single beds, one sink, and a small cupboard that had seen better days. And it only got more like boarding school as we had to walk down three corridors to get to the loo and the showers that fired lukewarm water at you in painful jets.

Left at 0530. Not quite sure how I could still see after the Mt Unremarkable Shiraz but at least I remembered to take my waterproof coat as the clouds were looking rather ominous. Within 10mins the wind had really picked up and the heavens opened. It took me 90mins to go 24kms and to the delightful town of Melrose.

With the rain getting heavier I decided to push onto Booleroo Centre. From there I continued 23km to Appila where I felt enough was enough as my waterproof coat was completely soaked through. I took refuge under the hotel porch and phoned Ed to say come sooner rather than later. Thank God for back up.

Some 40mins later I watched as Ed shot past me, turned left, and disappeared towards Jamestown. Luckily my phone had a signal and I was able to get him to turn round and come back.

Had a brief break, put on some dry clothes and sat in the car to try to warm up. It's bizarre to think that I was cycling across the hot desert yesterday and today was freezing in 13degrees of windy rain. Just like being back home!

Then pushed on to Jamestown (birthplace of RM Williams) where the scenery changed from small pokey fields to large, rolling expanses of wheat. We grabbed a quick lunch and with the sun becoming ever more present I decided to push on. The wind however had other ideas. I spent an awful afternoon battling to cycle 66km. The wind farms on the hills outside Hallett should have been a clue that this would be a blowy leg.

When there was a lull in the wind it was nice to look around and see archetypal colonial Australian farmhouses, some of which were incredibly grand. Also the rolling hills did make a nice change to the long straight road I'd spent the last three weeks on. To give you an idea of the wind strength it took me two hours to do the last 32kms into Burra whereas normally in that time I'd cover about 45km. But as usual Ed was at hand at regular stages to offer words of encouragement. This was after already heading into Burra to arrange a room. With its own loo!

Strolled into Burra for dinner. It's a very elegant, well kept town, and was well worth the hard work of getting here. In fact it has so many nice little shops that I wouldn't be surpised if Ed doesn't show up until late afternoon tomorrow.

7 Dec 2009: Pimba to Wilmington. 214km (134miles) Time in saddle 10h50m

Left Pimba at 0250, slightly concerned that the road out would be the same as the road in - flat and not much to it.

Was pleasantly surprised by nice, slow climbs. As I reached the top of one hill I looked down and saw a salt lake with the moon shining across it, making it look as though it was covered in ice. Very Christmasy. Even more festive, good king Wenceslas came on my iPod at that very moment.

As the sun rose I could make out the Flinders Ranges ahead on the left that I would be climbing later that afternoon. On the whole it was a lovely ride and I was flying. There seemed to be an awful lot of army on the road. I thought it appropriate to salute them as I passed, and in return received two fingers up from one of the drivers. The British Army wouldn't stand for that sort of thing. The sooner this country becomes independent the better.

Arrived in Port Augusta just short of 8 hours from leaving Pimba. It was a shock to the system to be back in civilization after thousands of kilometres of having the road to myself. Met Ed in a roadhouse for a quick drink. He kindly shot on ahead to check what the road was like and came back with bad news.

There then followed 21km before turning of the highway to go through the Flinders ranges. Those 21km were probably similar to cycling along the M25. This highway is the main stretch between the busy Port Augusta and Adelaide, so road trains aplenty. There's no hard shoulder on the side of the road and so very little room for error for a cyclist trying to compete with lorries and hordes of families on holiday. So much so that three times I was forced onto the gravel on the side of the road. There was also a smell on leaving Port Augusta that seemed to be a combination of dead fish, sewerage, and sweaty socks.

I then turned left toward Wilmington and started to slowly climb Horrocks Pass over the mountain. After nine kms it got decidedly steeper. And steeper. But was beautiful nonetheless as there was very little traffic and it was great to be out of the wind and the mayhem of the highway below. Having not climbed a hill like this for three weeks I had to use muscles that had been hybernating. Getting to the top was a huge effort, not least because it was 33 degrees, but the view back down towards the water was stunning and made it all worthwhile. But the best was yet to come. Ed was at the top and took a quick video clip on his phone and told me we were only 8km from Wilmington, which was all downhill. Boy that was fun.

Prior to meeting me at the top of the hill Ed had shot into Wilmington and organized a room. After dropping stuff in the room we went for a quick reconnaissance drive to decide tomorrow's route. We decided to eat at our hotel as it was the only place in town serving food.

Having arrived in wine country we thought we'd treat ourselves to a bottle of the local with dinner. Which happened to be a Mt Remarakble 2004 Shiraz. The only thing remarkable about it was how bad it was. It would be best served in a brown paper bag. The only way to rinse the foul taste away was with a few cleansing beers and a few games of pool before bed.

6 Dec 2009: Glendambo to Pimba - 114km. Time in saddle 5h37

After a great night's sleep we were up and having breakfast by 0730 and on the road by 0830. After yesterday it was decided we would make a quick blast down to Pimba and leave the big leg from Pimba to Port Augusta until tomorrow. The scenery was very flat save for a bridge in the middle of nowhere crossing the railway whereupon I received my first burst of road rage.

There were some lovely downhill sections which, despite having the wind in my face, was a pleasant contrast to yesterday. Cycling was enjoyable again.

Two road trains that had been at Glendambo shot past, blaring their air horns. Not sure whether as a greeting or because I was cyclng badly.

Stopped at Lake Hart, after 70km, which is mainly dried up and looks like a white salt flat. Here I chatted to a teacher driving from Coober Pedy to Adelaide for the summer holidays. Once back on the road a white pick-up coming the other way slowed down, the young driver hanging out his window shouting to see if I had enough water, fruit, and chocolate. Stupidly I said yes and they drove on, which was when I realised the girls in the back were quite pretty.

Ed went on to book accommodation in Pimba which looks like a container with a door cut in the side. However it has everything a man could want - Strong shower and a working fridge for the beers. After a couple of games pool we sat down for Sunday Night is Schnitzel Night at Spud's Roadhouse! Who said Australian cuisine is limited?

5 Dec 2009: Coober Pedy to Glendambo - 256 km. Time in saddle 14h40

Woke from a very poor night's sleep just before 0200 and on the road by 0230. After 2.5km I noticed I'd forgotten my two water bottles so went back and woke Ed to get them from the freezer.

The road was more interesting than coming into Coober Pedy and after a nice steady climb I came to a rest area approx 90km out of town which looked back over where I'd just come from. Had a quick drink and a chocolate bar and back on the road within 10min.

Not long after this I hit the wall. I really struggled until Ed arrived at about 140km out of CP. My average dropped from 20km/hr to 17km/hr whereupon Ed suggested another 10km then stop for a break. At the next stop I had somehing to eat, took on more fluids, then set off again.

The next 16km until the next stop we arranged seemed to go on for eternity. There was absolutely nothing in the tank. As I pulled into the rest area Ed knew immediately and taking my bike told me to get in the car and have a nap. He moved the van so it was more in the shade. The lack of sleep had finally caught up with me. I managed to grab 30mins sleep during which Ed patiently sat and read his book. Again.

When I awoke Ed decided we would do the rest in 20km chunks which meant stopping another 3 times before reaching Glendambo. I don't know what had happened but I was soon back into my groove, helped as always by Ed's encouraging words not only at the stops but as he drove past me.

At the last stop Ed shot onto Glendambo to sort out accommodation and it gave me time to gather my thoughts after my worst day on the bike, due to such a poor night's sleep.

This leg had worried me ever since planning this trip as there is nothing between Coober Pedy and Glendambo. The horror of the day was offset by the huge elation at finally making it to Glendambo. Something that would not have been possible without Ed encouraging me on over the last 80km.

After a quick shower we headed in for supper only to be told that, at 1930 on Saturday night, the kitchen was closed. I suddenly remembered reading in someone else's blog that Glendambo was the place they arrived after a hard day's ride to be served foul food at extortionate prices by sullen staff. Not much seems to have changed.

We therefore headed off to the roadhouse where we had hamburgers with the lot which, unlike in Elliot, were entirely edible and a portion of chips to feed a football team. Just what the doctor ordered and hit the spot.

After a couple of beers and a couple of turns on the sega rally, both of which Ed won, we hit the sack at about 2145 and slept through until 0700. Boy did I need it physically, and Ed mentally having carried me emotionally all day.

4 Dec 2009: Coober Pedy - time in saddle 0

Nice to have a lie-in. Had breakfast from the ration packs, did some washing, then set off to explore Coober Pedy.  Half an hour later...  To be fair, everyone we have met so far has been very friendly.  We just make a point of crossing the road to avoid the more interesting personalities around town.  The town itself is quite unique.  We're yet to see a blade of grass anywhere.  The whole town consists of white, rocky dust with corrugated iron houses and the occasional paved road.  Frowm what we can gather there's a good cross-section of Greeks, Serbians, and Croatians here.

We visited the underground church and an underground cafe and ventured into some of the opal shops (every other shop here is an opal shop).  One of the shop owners, an elderly Greek woman, kindly offered us the remains of what her husband had dug up this morning, some postcards, and other souvenirs.  If we'd stayed there longer I think we would have come away with a sodding great opal.

Had an enormous pizza that made me want to have a nap, but not before updating this blog!  Hoping for an early night tonight, want to be out on the road by 0300.  It's 252km to Glendambo tomorrow and I'm expecting this stretch of road to be the most exposed and empty of them all.  Hopefully my team manager will keep me going with his usual words of wisdom and never ending supply of snacks.

3 Dec 2009: Marla to Coober Pedy - 232km (145 miles) - time in saddle 11h48m

As I crossed into South Australia I lost an hour.  Left 0330 (SA time), thought the road would be flat and straight but was pleasantly surprised by a few gentle hills and bends.  Fantastic shooting star lit up the sky in front of me.  Even after two weeks I'm still amazed by the stars and even now seem to be noticing more constellations.

As the road levelled out and the number of bushes and trees diminished the sun started to rise.  As the light crept upwards towards the horizon it seemed to cover an even larger area than normal.  I had to remind myself that if I carry on at this rate I will, in a few days, be back in "suburbia" and therefore need to make the most of this.  I stopped to take in yet another amazing sunrise and of course the joy of complete silence, save for the occasional bird adding to the dawn chorus.

I know I have mentioned this before but I will never forget this magical time of day, especially when I am the only person for miles around.  It's as if this had all been put on for me as a way of saying "Well done for cycling through the early hours".

Climbing back on Shirley (my bike) I soon settled back into my routine.  Not long afterwards a small road train (only two trailers) passed me.  The smell of burning rubber was overpowering.  I thought it must either have a flat tyre, which meant it could start throwing out huge chunks of rubber at any time, or worse still something was caught underneath the tyres.  It soon became apparent that it was the latter as I spent the next few kilometres weaving around discarded animal parts.  Or following a new en-trail I suppose.  In the distance I could see that the lorry had stopped.  Despite trying I could not get to him before he pulled away.  However, what I did find was the remains of the cow that must have been stuck underneath - not a pleasant sight.  It did make me wonder what would have happened if part of the cow had been flung at me as the truck passed - the steaks would certainly have been high.

After 80km I reached Cadney Homestead.  Ever since planning this trip, Cadney Homestead had for me conjured up images of an old-style outback ranch and I was not disappointed.  As I arrived a twin-engine plane took off from the airstrip behind and pulled up into the bright blue sky before banking to the left and turning to fly overhead.  Cadney was a clean, well run family roadhouse with good food.  Having arrived sooner than anticipated I decided to have a quick breakfast and then push on to Coober Pedy.  I left a message with the guy behind the counter to pass onto Ed.

Because breakfast took slightly longer than I hoped Ed caught up with me soon afterwards.  He decided to drive onto Coober Pedy to book a room for the night.  By this time the road was pretty monotonous.  At one rest area we bumped into some Germans touring on motorbikes who I'd met last Friday at Aileron.  In the time it had taken me to get from Aileron they had been to Uluru.  It was also here that we met a young French guy called Gregory who was also cycling from Darwin to Melbourne.  He however was being followed by his Dad in a motorhome.  As we cycled he told me that he aimed to arrive in Melbourne on 18 December.  He obviously thought this OAP was going too slowly so he sped off into the distance saying "Bon voyage".

Some 40km out of Coober Pedy I caught sight of the first pile of mining rubble in the distance.  Little did I know it would be like that the whole way into town.  The head-on wind picked up and made the last two hours hard work.  The intitial excitement of seeing opal mines on the side of the road wore off very quickly.  The only point of interest was seeing the solar-powered cycle cruise effortlessly past me.  Again.

Arrived in Coober Pedy at 1830.  Ed had found a great room and had gone on ahead to put the beers on ice.  We feasted on ration packs and a couple of beers, watching Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man - an inspiration (of sorts).

2 Dec 2009: Kulgera to Marla - 178km (111 miles) - time in saddle 8h55m

Two weeks on the road - how things have improved from the first day. Left at 0300. Wish more places were like Kulgera roadhouse - good food, friendly staff. Pity I couldn't make the most of it. Crossed NT/SA border at 0400, remembering to throw out all fruit, plants, and livestock. Turns out the quarantine bin was actually 160km down the road.

The effects of yesterday caught up with me several times as I struggled to find a comfortable position on the saddle. Thank God for sudocrem and pawpaw cream.

Conditions were still favourable so aimed to make Marla, 178km from Kulgera. No nice undulating hills today. Not many bends either. Didn't think it possible but landscape even more barren than NT. In NT there was plenty of earning for upcoming rest areas which helped plan breaks. In SA you just come across the rest areas.

Rolled into Marla after 8h55m in the saddle, at 1400. Booked into Traveller's Rest and very kindly they offered us the room free of charge - I knew Ed would come in handy some time. It was great to finish earlier than usual and be able to wind down.

In the last two days I've covered 450km, or 281 miles. For those doubters among you, I have ed to prove it. Looking forward to a hearty meal and good night's sleep. Probably won't have reception for the next couple of days, until we hit Coober Pedy. Will update the blog then.

1 Dec 2009: Alice Springs to Kulgera - 272km (170 miles) - time in saddle 13h32m

Left at 0245 remembered to turn right onto Stuart Hwy as I left Alice Springs. We had two places that we could have stopped at: one at 100 km and the other at 200km. However it soon became apparent that with low wind and relative low temperature I would reach Orange Creek by around 0800.

For once the ride was interesting as the road gently wound between rocky outcrops, occasionally dropping to cross the valley floor as the sun rose I could make out more of the hills on either side with the usual array of constantly changing colours.

My private world was broken by the pathetic "toot toot" from the horn of a solar-powered cycle that flew by followed closely by a small coach full of support crew. Where was my support crew? Probably still in bed. The solar bike was a low-slung machine, shaped like a bullet, with the rider horizontal. Next time...

At around 0800 I stopped at Stuarts Well roadhouse for my obligatory ice coffee and Snickers. But this time I also treated myself to a toasted BLT which I have to say was one of the best I've had in a long time and certainly hit the spot.

At around 1030 (166km) Ed arrived at the rest area I was sitting in with an array of snacks which made a change to the protein bars I've been working my way through.  The reason for his late arrival was that I'd given him a list with two phone numbers to call about accommodation and had forgotten to put a line through the shopping list above. Ed dutifully bought everything on it, not knowing I already had bought everything. I won't be running out of lip balm or socks very soon.

Quick dash to Erldunda (199km) which was our second potential stopover. However, because conditions were so favourable I decided that I would go for the big one and push on another 74km to Kulgera. Ed agreed and buggered on ahead in his air conditioned van. He did however agree to meet me at the 30km and 50km marks, which gave him plenty of time to listen to his CD book on Pioneer Women of the Outback.

By this time the scenery had changed from the variety of the morning to rather dull, arid landscape. Got to get used to it, there's a lot more if to come in South Australia.

As the sun set on my right and the moon rose to my left the colours were even more spectacular than normal. The array of oranges and reds as the sun set were matched by vivid blues and light greys on the earth under the moon which reflected on the hills. The huge spectrum of colours certainly helped take my thoughts off how long I'd been in the saddle.  For two hours prior to reaching Kulgera only one lorry passed me. Ed had gone on to book a room and when I got there we had a beer to celebrate. Biggest day to date - 272km, 13h32m in the saddle!

We then shot into the bar to have pasta bake with veg which may not sound much but makes a nice change to the prepacked rubbish the previous roadhouses had served.

There is no way I could have made that last 74km without Ed's strategically placed stops offering endless supplies of snacks, drinks, and words of encouragement.

30 Nov 2009 Alice Springs - time in saddle 0!

Met Ed at airport. Picked up his van, into Alice to buy one or two things. Back to Libby's for proper Aussie BBQ. Cooked by visiting German student - we didn't mention the war. Met two friends of Libby and discussed alternative routes around Adelaide. Will try and avoid Adelaide as much as possible, no offence to any Adelaide readers. Instead will head to Victoria via Mildura near NSW.  Ed managed to find a place to sleep in the daughter's bed. I hasten to add she wasn't there. Turned in early for the usual 3am start. Totally refreshed.

29 Nov 2009 Alice Springs
Well, I did it! Here I am in Alice Springs, and if I say so myself, I am feeling quite pleased. Having again looked at the map of Oz, AS is quite some way from the top. Quite a sense of achievement and one that I am very proud of. I reckon that in about 3 days' time I should be halfway there - what an incentive to keep me going. I have decided that because I have been averaging around 105 miles per day for the last 4 days, and knowing what is ahead of me, that I really do need to recharge my batteries. I will take Sunday and Monday off which will give time for Edward to get here, me to get some kit together and to get in touch with more of Holly's contacts along the way. I still aim to get to Adelaide by around the 13th of December (or before) and then a big push into Melbourne, still hoping to finish on Dec 19th. I know there seems to be quite a following which is wonderful and I cannot tell you how much it means to pick up (as and when I can) your messages of support. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could spread the word to even more people and get them on board towards that magic £50,000 figure.

I think it is fair to say that there is no way I could have achieved what I have in the time I have without the help of Carlos. He has played a blinder. I owe so much to him, a total stranger, who went out of his way to help me. Yes, he was going to be going down the same road, but there was no need for him to give up so much of his time to help another total stranger. As I mentioned earlier, he normally travels by motorcycle so I am hoping that he will be able to find what he wants and go exploring some of the more wilder parts of Oz. His company has kept me sane after hours of looking at tarmac and white lines. I hope that I have added something to his travels. Carlos I thank you again, as I have done at the end of each day, for helping to keep this old English guy's dream alive and hope that some time I will be able to repay you this huge act of generosity and kindness. Please do follow my progress and keep in touch. Let us all learn from this.

28 Nov 2009 Aileron to Alice Springs 143 km (89 miles) Time in saddle 9 hrs 21 mins including time to Libby's house, about 12 kms further on from AS.

I was woken at about 0200 by the wind outside and knowing that I would be facing headwinds I thought I better get started asap. I watched the moon set and then was on my way by 0220. As the wind was so strong I couldn't even put on the Ipod. I resigned myself to make the most of the wonderful dark sky and was not disappointed when out of the corner of my left eye I caught a shooting star which continued to burn for another 2-3 seconds. It was so bright and amazing that it sent shivers down my spine, plus I nearly rode off the road. The road continued to climb gently with the wind full on. As the sun rose the road ahead just disappeared in one long straight line.

I had decided that I would stop at the junction of Plenty Highway but it soon became apparent that there was no way I would make it. I found myself having to stop more often than usual. Several times on the ride I got a searing pain from the palm of my left hand to my elbow which meant that I had to ride with that hand on my lap - great fun when you are struggling into a headwind and trying to balance with only one hand. I kept telling myself that I had to get used to this, because there may be more days like this ahead in South Australia (SA). Another part of me kept asking why on earth am I doing this, when I could be at home in front of the fire with a nice glass of red wine. It's at times like this that I really need to dig deep to keep going. I looked for "points of interest" along the map to keep me focused such as the railway line coming close to the road, Bond Springs airstrips and the Tropic of Capricorn. All these may sound, and seem ridiculous, but they kept me focused for small chunks at a time which in turn meant that I continued towards AS, which in turn meant that every pedal gets me nearer to seeing my girls, and hopefully and most importantly, reaching the target for the charities.

Carlos and I met up at the Tropic of Capricorn where we took the real tourist shots. Boy we deserved them: me for getting there by bike and Carlos for being so patient in helping me get there. He had even taken down and packed up my tent and sleeping mattress. Not long after this I noticed the highest marker point - the highest point along the Stuart Highway - so maybe it is downhill all the way, and then not long after that signs for hotels, motels and garages started to appear, and I knew I was within striking distance. The hills appeared either side of the road which meant that I had a little more protection from the wind and so was able to speed up. There also appeared a really smooth cycle path which took me straight into town where, before meeting up with Carlos, I took a tourist shot by the large Alice Springs sign as per the one on the website. Carlos had found the cycle shop that my brother Philip had been talking to about my leaking gears. The lady there told me that she had spoken to Rohloff who said that it was usual to happen in hot weather. She gave the bike the once over and some two hours later we made our way to Libby Prell's house on the other side of AS which is a real oasis and so homely - just what was needed. She was so welcoming and offered to put us up in the annexe.

27 Nov 2009 Barrow Creek to Aileron 149km (93 miles) Time in saddle 8hrs 12 mins.

After a dreadful nights sleep I was on the road by 0339. Before really going for it, I took time to look up at the amazing stars. It was great, and not a sound to be heard except the thumping great generator they had going ALL NIGHT at BC. This ride was going to be split into two: First leg to Ti Tree (signs for which I had seen for 250 km and hoped it wasn't a repeat of Helliott - as Carlos had come to describe Elliott); and the 2nd leg was from Ti Tree to Aileron. Once under way I got into my stride fairly quickly, and made good time to Ti Tree, passing Mt Stuart on the way.

I arrived at Ti Tree having covered 91 km in 4hrs 31 mins. I seemed happy enough, had my usual Iced Coffee, thinking that I should be in Aileron, some 58 kms, before long. I phoned Aileron to check they had some rooms - no, which meant camping. Little did I know what was around the corner. The wind picked up and I really struggled over the next 40kms having to get off twice as my feet were now so painful. My little finger on my right hand had all but fallen asleep, and I could not move it towards my third finger. It was one of the most horrible 40 kms I had done. The wind was really picking up and I was struggling to stay focused in that I was hooted at twice - the first time on the whole trip.I finally got to a rest area some 16km from Aileron where Carlos was waiting. He was just about to come and look for me as he said he was getting worried as to how long I was taking. A couple who were also there offered me some fruit cake and an apple and I had 2 huge cups of sweet black tea. It was the latter that kept me going for the last 5 kms. The couple also told me that it was 39C - no wonder I was struggling. It just shows how quickly the heat can build up here and why I have, most days, tried to finish before noon.


We finally got into Aileron where the diesel was the most expensive Carlos had seen on his whole travels. It also boasted "the best restaurant on the track" - you could have fooled me. The hamburger, served between 2 slices of white bread, looked very like the rissoles, both of which were horrible - and this is from someone who, having gone to boarding school, prides himself on being able to eat most things. I asked if the gate to the campsite was closed at night as I would be leaving early in the morning. "Dont' worry mate they wouldn't dare go in there" - they being the indigenous people.


Put up our tents, had a shower as very smelly and did a wash. Phoned ahead to Libby Prell, friend of a friend of Holly Prest, to see if was okay to stay. Fine, just call when get to AS as they are on other side on Ross Highway. Managed to be in the tent looking at stars by around 2000.

26 Nov Part 2: Wycliffe Well to Barrow Creek 109 km (68 miles) Time in saddle 5 hrs 25 mins

Having stocked up on water, put on my head gear that made me look like something out of the French Foreign legion, I took the plunge and left at 1530. The heat and brightness were intense. The road was almost dead straight for about 50 kms with the heat haze simmering the whole way. The only bit of excitement was when the road climbed over the Australasia railway which disappeared into the distance and which I would not see again until some 65 km from Alice. The sharpness of the sun at this time of the day throws into complete contrast the wonderful colours that can be seen at sunrise and sunset. It is almost as if at the height of the day, the sun bleaches everything. It is not a pleasant colour and one that saps your strength - especially when cycling in that heat. The wind stayed with me for the most part and the first part of the road was smooth, until giving way to further rough surface. On the whole, a boring ride and one that got us into Barrow Creek at 1945, only to find that the kitchen had just closed. The place was interesting to say the least, with cockroaches the size of terriers and, as Carlos said, we could have had a better nights sleep in the tents. We ended up having a couple of the ration packs for supper. Still I managed to get a beer for Carlos and a slush puppie for me - that's what my body said I needed!! I later remembered that this is where Peter Falconio's girlfriend took refuge while being chased.

26 Nov 2009 Part 1: Tennant Creek to Wycliffe Well 133 km (83 miles) Time in saddle 5hrs 56 mins.

Left TC at 0330. Tailwind to help me along so set up Ipod. Mr Shuffle was working overtime with a great selection of songs including Steve Winwood - first date with Kate and can still remember it so clearly - she hasn't changed and is still such fun to be with. The other song was from the old Irish rockers Horslips. This immediately took me back to my eldest brother Mike's wedding when me and my other brothers, James and Philip, where coming home from the reception at Cokethorpe. We were in James' Mini Cooper and had just passed the Rose Revived pub when this Horslips track came on the 8 track stereo. I remember thinking at the time that things couldn't get much better - Mini Cooper, 8 track stereo - all the boys out there will know what I mean! Move on some 30+ years and the sun rise I was watching as this song was playing this time around was pretty impressive.  I must have felt good, as I didn't become all emotional. Just before arriving at Wauchope, took a little detour to see Devils Marbles - picture on website. An amazing place in the middle of nowhere. None of the photos do it justice except for the aerial ones.

As I came into Wauchope I was flying along at around 27kph but the road surface became very rough and bumpy.The constant vibrations were starting to play real havoc on my wrists. Wauchope is just a hotel - very neat and run by a small Ozzie, with every other word being this and that. Was complaining, in front of them, about the two young Germans he had employed, one of whom he had asked to do some weeding, yet had managed to pull up the water sprinkler system. Seemed to know all the Ozzie sporting legends, and bearing in mind this is the only place for miles around, seemed to think it was his duty to boar the pants off everyone that came in. It just so happened that I was the only person there, that was until my Canadian Cavalry (Carlos) turned up. It didn't take Carlos long to suggest that we move onto the next place Wycliffe Well - UFO centre of Oz - which was only 20kms down the road. I mentioned that if that was no good and bearing in mind that the tailwind was with us, that I may be tempted to try and make Barrow Creek.

Apart from alien statues outside and the rather bizarre decor, Wycliffe Well was just like everywhere else. Had another bad/average lunch. Could not bring ourselves to have the Golden Gaytime ice cream!!

25 Nov 2009 Renner Springs to Tennant Creek 158km (98.75 miles) Time in saddle 8hrs 31 mins

Left at 0300. It was a pleasant enough ride as not only were there a few more stops along the way, there were a few twists and turns, and one or two little hills. These may not sound much, but they certainly help to break the continuous boredom of watching the road disappear in front of you. Just after 0600, I stopped at Banka Banka station for the usual early morning routine of a quick snack and put on the sun lotion. I continued on to Attack Creek where I stopped for a few mintues. A lady from Melbourne, who had been sleeping in her car there, mentioned that the cold wind had blown through during the night - seemed quite warm to me. We chatted about where I was going and had come from. When she heard that I had come from Darwin she paused and said "Gosh that's taken you a long time", "Yes" I said "I'm on a bike." Just before Tennant Creek, Carlos arrived and said that he would go on ahead. On arrival we booked into Goldfield Motel and then went in search of some grub.TC seemed to have 3 places to eat: one had a fire engine outside - it had just burnt down; the other the Pizza Emporium was closed; the third was the cafe/deli. My idea of a deli has a selection of olives, fresh pasta, salami, and lots of other yummy things. This deli/cafe didn't fall into that catergory. The two guys that ran it reminded me of the lines from a song "You had your father's eyes, Daddy was an alcoholic". As I had my back to the counter I missed the "chef" who Carlos said looked like he was doing split shifts between here and the local gold mine and not bothering to change between. We ordered a chicken burger with the lot - and by that it seemed to mean anything they could find in the fridge or on the floor etc. It was revolting.


24 Nov 2009 Renner Springs

Rest day - Gosh my body feels as if I have just done 255.5 miles in 2 days. Just catching up on things - like this blog. Sorry for all the spelling and grammar mistakes. Miss my gilrs so much but have to keep thinking how unbearable it would be if I was towing the trailer. Still windy but hopefully it will pass by tomorrow. Will report again soon.

23 Nov 2009

Hi Way Inn to Renner Springs 234km or 146.25 miles. After yesterday's exploits today was MASSIVE even if I say so myself. Left Hi Way at 0307. It took me ages to get into the groove. I was really struggling as it seemed even more boring than normal. Only exciting bit was when a kangaroo ran so close in front of me that I had to slam my brakes on so hard that the back wheel came off ground. The wind started to pick up just before Newcastle Waters, some 24 km outside Elliot, where I had arranged to meet Carlos. I pulled into NW rest area where an Ozzie stated the obvious that I only had 24km to go - true but then he was in a car and not really aware of how bad the headwinds where getting. If another person says "well it's all downhill" I will bloody punch them. Carlos caught up with me just outside Elliott.

What can I say about Elliott. It is probably the most depressing plave I have ever been to. So run down that rather than tumble weed blowing down the road there are empty VB (Victoria Bitter) cans! Bearing in mind that you have sign for Elliott some 300km out, you get the feeling that it must have something about it - but not at all. While we were having lunch, we met up with two motorcyclist, one another Canadian doing OZ, and a guy from Darwin on his way to Melbourne. Last year, he had cycled from Alice to Darwin. I went to the Police station to ask if they had seen a recent weather forecast and knew how long the wind would be around. Wait for it in true "We're a Police station and not the bloody Met office." No wonder no one wants to live in Elliott.

At about 1530 I decided to go for it. I knew that with 90km to go we would arrive in Renner Springs in the dark. I therefore stocked up on water, fuel bars - thanks Helen - and headed off. It was really hard work, average speed dropped down to under 15kph. At times the wind meant I could only manage 10-12kph. Carlos was great in that he would go on about 20km wait to see I was okay, and then would drive further on. He said that if I ever wanted to give up he would bring me back the next day to start again. At about 50km it was still light, so we decided to go for it. Carlos suggested that I take tomorrow as a rest day. With all my night gear on I cracked on and until the last 15 kms felt okay. My hands are giving me real pain as are my 2nd toes on each foot but then again they are probably not used to being worked this hard.

The first leg to Elliot was 7.59 hours and this 2nd leg added a further 5.46 hours - 13.45 hours in the saddle - the things i do for charity. As darkness fell, Carlos kept going ahead and reporting back as to how steep the hills are etc. Finally arrived just after 2130 to find food was not being served so ended up with a couple of pies. We had several beers to celebrate which meant me waking at about 0300 with headache. There is no way that without Carlos' support and knowing that if it all got too much I could grab a lift, that I would have made it this far in one day. Thank you Carlos - it must have been very boring for him.

22 Nov 2009 Mataranka to Hi Way Inn

174.8 km or 109.25 miles - IT IS OFFICAL - IT'S A RECORD, I BROKE THE 100 MILE TARGET. Left at 0239 usual boring start with long incline. Sun up at around 0600 but could see long before that. After 75 km came to Larrimah - not a lot there, even a petrol station that had fallen down. Grabbed a bit to eat - thanks Helen - and put on sun cream. Decided to put on Ipod to try and numb the monontous boredom. Also decided to change cycling shorts to see if that would reduce the pain. There I was on the side of the road completely naked from waist down hoping that a road train did not come by - mind you, you hear them from a long way off.

So off I went, things didn't go well as 3 songs came on ipod which made me cry - McFly - which reminded me of my Smelly Rose (Ems) and a Coldplay and Take That song which reminded me of Kate. Thank God there weren't any to to remind me of the others, otherwise I would have been a complete wreck. It is amazing how with so much time to think it is the little things that push you over. I knew that I would miss them but did not think it would be so bad and intense at times. I know that they will all be helping each other, but that still does not get away from the fact that I love them more than anything else.

Flagged down a 4x4 pulling a trailer to ask for some water. As the large guy got out I noticed that his equally large wife was NAKED in the passenger seat. By 9am the sun was very high and it was getting very hot. I arrived at Daly Waters pub at approx 1115 - not all it is cracked up to be. So I moved approx 9 km down raod to Hi Way Inn where they gave me a room for free - how fantastic is that. Place was full of Irish girls. Carlos turned up at about 1200. Had lunch in Barra (fish and chips), showered and watched all the road trains come and go during the afternoon. One of them which was 4 trailer long and hauling avaition fuel had 86 wheels! Took opportunity to wash my V smelly shoes. While we were watching this Carlos noticed that it had hit 46C in the shade. So pleased that I broke the magic 100 mark - I hope I do not suffer tomorrow. Got to bed at 2000.

21 Nov 2009 Katerine to Mataranka

As Charlie was taking the trailer onto Mataranka, I decided to take the mudguards off - less weight!! We then had a lovely BBQ with Charlie and Helen, during which Helen went out to buy numerous nutrional bars etc. I finally got to bed at around 2230. Despite what the rest of the family say Charlie, they could all learn a few things from you. I cannot believe you are related - you are far too thoughtful a person! I was up and gone by 0300. Still quite hilly but my average speed went up from 15 kph to 22.3kph - that 0.3 is very important.

Arrived in Mataranka and went to the garage - only place open for drink etc. Mobile worked so had a lovely chat with Kate who was in the middle of a girlie night at Merton. Checked into motel where the lady gave a discount due to bike ride. CS and H turned up at 1130 with new saddle I had asked him to bring - did not work - and the new Camelbax. Not long after, Carlos, the Canadain I had me in Pine Creek, who is travelling around Oz and had said that he would offer back up support through to Alice turned up. Carlos usually travels by motorbike. In the past, he has travelled down thro South America and all over Canada and North America. He is currently touring Oz in his white Mister Bushie van having arrived in Sydney and gone south to Melbourne into Adelaide across to Perth then up the west coast to Darwin. Went off to swim in natural springs near by - quite smelly. CS and H left - I tried to sleep - no go. Sorted out trailer which we put in back of Carlos van.

20 Nov 2009
Left Pine Creek at 0100. Uphill all the way. One of the benefits of cycling at night is that you don’t see how long the hills are. Nearly did my impersonation of a road train as a kangaroo jumped out across my path. Just as the sun was rising at 0519, a dingo or wild dog crossed the road in front of me. Arrived at Katherine at 0600 much earlier than Charlie Shannon anticipated – still very welcoming and had a good breakfast with him at the select coffee shop. Heat is relentless and difficult trying to get the balance between cycling in the morning to avoid the heat, yet getting a proper night’s sleep to avoid being too tired. Little finger on left hand is numb. Trip to doctor said I probably trapped the ulna nerve. Tomorrow should be a new experience as travelling without trailer (Charlie has kindly offered to drive it to Mataranka). Hopefully should knock of the “k”s quite quickly. Thanks also for all the kind comments and encouragement, and for the continued generous donations to the charities - bit of a blip on the Justgiving link to the Roald Dahl Foundation page, but you can still see the progress at the bottom of the link - Justgiving are aware and working on it.

19 Nov 2009
Left Adelaide River at 0237 with target of making Hayes Creek for breakfast. Arrived there at 0600 only to find it closed. Decided to carry on to Emerald Springs Roadhouse. On way up steep hill, pin in trailer-arm sheered off. How trailer did not go downhill, God only knows. Continued into Pine Creek arriving at about approximately 1100. Gears continuing to slip with slight oil leak – possibly thinning out due to the extreme heat. Booked into motel and crashed out.

18 November - Wednesday
This is Philip, one of John's brothers, and I spoke to John about an hour ago on the satellite phone. He has reached Adelaide River, about 116 km from Darwin. He has found the heat extremely challenging with temperatures over 40c. He is now staying in a cabin and has had a long shower. The Spot Messenger signal worked a couple of times last night, but no signal has been received since, so we are looking into that, and also to make sure the map starts to show his correct location. The Blackberry signal is poor/non-existent whch might explain why people are having problems sending him emails.

17 Nov 2009
Landed in Sydney to be met by the wonderful Coorey Family. Flying from Darwin to Sydney made the mistake of making conversation and eye contact with a drunk person in the seat in front. When he discovered I was English, which didn’t take him long, he mentioned that the similarity between Australia and England is that we’re both islands, however Australia is a continent. To which I replied, ‘Yes, there is a difference: we have an empire’. His response was ‘why are you English so bloody arrogant?’. I said ‘I’m sorry you feel like that, but it’s a fact, we do have an empire.'

Met at Darwin airport by Chad. Dropped bike off to be rebuilt. Went to Darwin general stores – photos to come. Put trailer together; tried to sort out bits and pieces. Finally hit the sack at about 0030. Up at 0600; on the road by 0645. Stopped after 30km for a quick liquid refill, and again after 60km – cannot believe how much water I’m having to drink. I should have listened to those on the ground and not, as my friend in the aeroplane suggested, been so bloody arrogant.

16 Nov 2009
Left home at 06.45 yesterday morning. Had eventful time at Heathrow as no one at Qantas knew of my excess baggage. After a fraught hour or so things were finally sorted but not after I had to unpack the trailer box and put some of the kit into a suitcase to bring the weight of each item below 32 kgs - Health & Safety. Qantas are in the process of sorting this out and did upgrade me to business - tough hey. A big thank you to James P for all his help at H'Row and for keeping calm when I was about to lose it. I put that down to being tired and emotional. Currently 03.00 in morning in Singapore where I am posting this from the Business lounge. Miss my girls already and I haven't even started.

13 Nov 2009
Yesterday the Oxford Mail today BBC Radio Oxford on the Malcolm Boyden morning show - copy of interview below. It was a wonderful way to get the message across to so many more people - and I don't just mean the friends I had asked to listen - so much so that I had a message from someone listening in Oz. What's even better is that BBC Radio Oxford have said that they will be in contact with me as I make my way down through Oz. Went straight from radio station to Walton Street Cycles where my bike was dismantled and packed up ready to go. Thanks David, let's hope that it is all there when I get to Darwin. Wonderful messages on the Guestbook which always help to keep me focussed as to why I have set my self this target - please keep them coming. Over and above this St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Headington held a disco this evening with the theme of Super Heroes. My youngest daughter Kitty went as me - how great is that. And then to top it all I get several more donations including one for £500.

12 Nov 2009
Article appeared in Oxford Mail telling of my exploits which should help raise awareness of the charities. Have just got back from a wonderful fund raising evening at St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Headington arranged by Louise Robbins. Thanks not only to Louise for all the hard work and preparation but also to all those that turned out on a miserable wet evening and to all those that could not make it but still managed to make a donation One bit of bad news is that the Men at Work You Tube video clip no longer works. If someone at Sony Music Entertainment could rectify this that would be great as I was only trying to include a song that I thought was relevant. Look forward to it going "live again" soon - hopefully before I leave. 

10 Nov 2009
With just over 4 days to go until I leave the UK, and despite the months of planning and preparation I am still waiting for one or two things to turn up. Hopefully I have covered everything. It's funny to think that this time next week I will be putting my head down for the last time before setting off. Having watched the weather forecast along the Stuart Highway for the last couple of months, one thing I do do know is that it is going to be VERY HOT. Currently 4C here in Oxfordshire compared to 35C in Darwin and 39C in Adelaide. I have got to that stage now where I just want to get started as I have, in my mind, crossed the finishing line so many times.

29 Oct 2009
. After just a few e-mails  TR Bearcom, part of TR Telecom, the appointed global service provider for Iridium Satellite based in Melbourne with an office in Darwin, have confirmed that they will be happy to help me out with the supply of a satellite phone AT NO CHARGE. How amazing, generous and kind is that.

28 Oct 2009
What a day. Had some fantastic donations. First a wonderfully generous donation of £2,000 which took me completely by surprise and then one for £250 from Ignis Investment Services. Let's hope that it's the first of many donations from the investment world. If the above wasn't good enough, just as I was about to call it a day, I get an e-mail through telling me that someone has donated £480. THIS HAS TURNED OUT TO BE ONE HELL OF A DAY. Thank you all so much.

19 Oct 2009
I am so easily pleased! I have just found out that my outward trip to Oz is on board the Airbus A380,the giant double decker plane - how exciting is that! Hopefully they will have room for my bike and trailer!!
I'm just a little boy at heart!

18 Oct 2009
Four weeks to day until I leave. Had first (and hopefully last) puncture today. Getting rather serious now as I am trying to put in the miles with the trailer - 40 miles on Friday, 53 on Saturday and another 37 today having taken children to netball and rugby - whilst at the same time trying to sort out work before I go and helping out at home. It's made all the harder as the temperature here is somewhat different to Oz. Have been re-reading Billy Connolly's World Tour of Australia in which he says " Coober Pedy is a dismally inhospitable place, where the summer temperature is often 50C. The heat is indescribable - I can honestly say I have never been this hot in my entire life." Something to look forward to then! Better pack the suncream!
07 Oct 2009
Tickets arrived today. It's offical I leave UK on 15th November arriving in Darwin on 17th November.
Joke from my nephew Edward who will be riding with me from Alice Springs to Adelaide.
" Why can't a bicycle stand up on its own? Because it's two tyred" He says he has many more jokes of this calibre  and that Alice to Adelaide will just fly by. HELP

01 Oct 2009
Got my first few donations and kind words of support in the Guestbook - made my day!

30 Sept 2009:
All go today. Website went live - thanks Mansour at Alberon for all his help and never ending patience - plus the trailer arrived. It's all getting rather serious but great fun and very exciting.

Oct 29, 2009

With just over 2 weeks to go it is really starting to dawn on me how much I will miss Kate and the girls. This song is for Kate!

Oct 19, 2009