I admit to some mixed feelings beginning today’s ride. While I have been on the road out of Perth for almost 3 weeks, today I begin the crossing of the Nullarbor Plain. Leaving Noresman a series of road signs warn of feral/native animals ; camels , emus, cattle, horses, Dingos. There are warnings about road trains too. Then there’s the additional warning regarding the limited availability of water.
It’s just shy of 2000ks to Adelaide. I feel I’m embarking across the ocean on some great unknown adventure. Will the bike and I be up to it?
The Nullarbor Plain is in fact an ancient limestone seabed, so I am undertaking a nautical crossing of sorts, besides at points along the way, particularly around the Great Australian Bight, the road runs along close to the coast.
I was carrying extra food and water but I just couldn’t get the 5 ltrs of water to sit well on the bike, so had to redistribute the weight over my panniers then carry a few litres in my back pack. I’m missing Bob (my trailer). While I would travel slower with Bob, I can carry more things. I’m fearful of overloading the back wheel and breaking a spoke or two.
The mostly Northerly wind was neutral, as I rode off under overcast skies. It wasn’t long before I had the wet weathers out as the showers came down in earnest.
The Dundas Nature reserve was on my right; more salmon gums low scrub , salt bush and small dried out salt lakes. The trees are noticeably smaller, although there is still plenty of ground cover and vegetation.
By midday the showers cleared and I began to dry out. The wind is flukey while the so called flat Nullarbor Plain seemed to possess a few step inclines that I wasn’t expecting.
About 3 pm I pulled off the Eyre Highway along an unmade road for a couple of kilometres to the Fraser Range Station Caravan Park. Wow what a find (thanks Stephanie). Its a former frontier sheep and cattle station of close to a million acres that now has a big future in Nickel mining and tourism. I set up my camp not far from two other touring cyclists John and Anna who are traveling across the Nullarbor but from the other direction. They are both riding Surlys: a long haul trucker and a Disc trucker, to go with my cross check! John and Anna were full of valuable information on water points, where to camp etc. as we sat in the warm camp kitchen by the log fire drying out and resting up, for tomorrow’s ride to Balladonia.
The rain came pouring down around 7 pm. Rather than sit it out in my tent, I stayed by the fire full of envy for those staying in one of the self contained stone cottages, converted shearers quarters. However, the rain cleared and I was treated to a spectacular view of the night sky. Magical! I crawled into my tent warm and contented.
Nature called at 4.30am and as I got out of my tent, I was surprised to have been enveloped by a thick fog.
I had arranged the night previous to by 1/2 dozen fresh eggs ,from the station owners, which were dutifully delivered to me this morning still warm- They don’t come fresher! I warmed myself by the fire in the kitchen ,while my eggs boiled on the stove. Boiled eggs, natures take away fast food.
It was hard to leave Fraser Range into that cold fog, I felt I could have stayed there for a few days .
On the road the nomads toot and wave. I wave back. That kind of behaviour would generate a road rage incident back home.
By mid morning the the fog lifted and out came the sun and dried up all the rain. With the road flattening out and the wind at my back, I made good time to Balladonia Roadhouse and tonight’s camp.
Balladonia has a small free Museum attached, that displays Aboriginal artefacts and history alongside pioneer settlement, it’s an uneasy mix. Their main attraction though is a chunk of Space Junk , a piece of the Skylab Satellite that crashed not far from here when re-entering the Earth back in 1979.
It’s almost 200 kms to the next sign of civilisation , so tomorrow night I will be sleeping out , somewhere in the scrub on the Nullarbor Plain. Here’s hoping the sky is clear. Its not often you get to see stars without any light pollution. I will most likely be out of range for a couple of days now so will post next when I’m able .