Wednesday 4 January 2012


Leaving London was meant to be a relatively easy maneuver and it was in the end but for a minor mishap leaving me a few minutes to spare before I would have been left behind by the airline. I was filling in time before I took to the immacuately well planned route to the airport from Sebs apartment on the edge of Londons CBD. It was however a careless moment when I let the self locking door snap shut behind me as I left for what would have been the second last time to put the finishing touches on my bike box that was sitting in the hallway. In one of those moments you simply accept as fate, if or not you even believe in such a thing, I had been given Sebastian's business card as he left for his very important corporate job in the morning.

Dirty red dirt
It was this very card I found in my pocket as I made a credit card call from the nearest pay phone down the road. Fortunately Seb answered and said he would meet me half way on the tube. Unfortunately I was in a light sweater with no shoes and even more unfortunately I had one foot with painted toenails from my stay with Siobhan in East Grinstead the few days before. But as you may have worked out it all ended well and I made the flight landing in Perth where I made my way into the hot and dry plains of the Nullarbor region.

Straight out of Perth the same day I was very excited and full to the rafters with farmbake cookies, snake lollies and fruitcake not to mention the 12 liters of water I had decided to carry just in case. With all this I was as heavy as I have been at any point over the last 8 months and poor Doris really felt sluggish at first but then warmed into her own as the kms ticked by.

Mice everywhere
First the heat and the wind began to wear me out so I took refuge in my tent or better yet under the shade of a big tree during the hottest part of the day. Mornings are a pure joy to be riding and in the evenings as the sun is setting over my shoulder is even more fantastic. The temperature drops to a manageable zone and the cars are all but off the road and its as pleasant as pleasant can be. The first night out of Perth I was feeling a little woozy when I stopped at a pullout to make my camp. Without dinner and a little dehydrated after the excellent London catch up I was suffering and went to bed accordingly. Some time through the long night I woke and exited the tent in barely enough time to avoid puking all over the inside before repeating the exercise until I had nothing left but for the sticky green stuff at the end of it all. I dont really know what happened from this point but I remember having a hell of a temperature and I opened my eyes at one stage to see the sun poping over the horizion as my tent door was facing north east. That was the end of that day as I knew it as the next time I woke it was in the wee hours of the following morning again as the sun was poking over the edge of the earth and warming its edges. 34 hours without leaving the tent and I was good to go albeit slowly, on the road heading east and into the outrageous sun that this area is famous for.
Road train. Note Doris at the front wheel holding her own

Camel made from a roof
I followed the water pipeline originating from Perth and supplying all the outlying towns and mining communities their vital resource as well and making sure the public gardens are kept wonderfully green and lush in the main centres. I had no idea when I entered the state of Western Australia at the scale of the mining industry but it is epic. Over 2000 mines in this state alone was what I am told. At a small mining town called Norseman at the entrance to the Nullarbor Plains I had come in from a long ride and saw to the need to extract cash from a hole in the wall. As I was doing so I got chatting with a couple of 30 something burly lads who were curious to a point about what I was up to. Being that they were shifting from day to night shifts they had the following morning off so it was down to the pub for a couple of cold ones to the soulful sounds of karaoke sliding through the open doors and out onto the street. 

Not letting me reach into my wallet all evening I was impressed that these guys had work the following day and they looked after me well into the night. To that end one of them let me sleep on the floor of their 'dog house' as he called it and took me to the mess in the morning. "just walk like a minor" he said, "if anyone asks just say you are a driller and starting tomorrow" and that was that. All the spread of a well established restaurant with a spot to make a lunch for myself as I left. Needless to say I filled up with as much as I could carry and headed out to photograph the old roof made into a camel.
A very straight, windy and dry section

 The nights are truly amazing here as the light pollution is extremely low. Although I do not have the slightest clue about most of the constellations that make up the night sky, I find myself getting lost in them, staring for hours and loving the fact that they are once again the southern stars. Continually the song seven bridges road by the eagles runs through my head despite the fact the southern stars from the song are in southern California, it still feels like an appropriate song for this time of the trip. 
Fixing another tent pole by torch light

                                                                               With a heavy head I got up from my stay in Norseman and headed into the burning sun, rolling East and beginning the Nullarbor crossing, a journey of which nobody said 'mate that sounds like a great idea' when I told them I was planning on doing it at this time of the year.
Nothing can stop Doris. Perth, Australia

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