Wednesday 4 January 2012


It all started off ok and it seemed the heat people talked about was not going to be the big issue I was concerned about. For a few days I continued on my way largely keeping to myself but for the stops for water and greasy burgers at the Roadhouses spotted infrequently along the way. These stops were frequented by the substantial amount of caravans and RVs travelling the road not to mention the large number of road trains some of which are three trailers long and pushing a substantial amount of wind in front of them as they pass the opposite direction. All in all, the road is in good condition and interesting enough to bike along.

The roadhouses along the way are mostly for people to get fuel but most also offer some kind of takeaway food and the beginnings of a convenience store, massively overpriced and low in selection but not one to shy away from high calorie food I was all over it like a fat kid on a cupcake. This is also where I would meet a lot of the interesting nomadic people that are Aussies travelling Australia in their early retirement years, most often with a sizeable RV in tow. High in praise and never short of a helpful tip they were fantastic characters, some of which I saw again throughout the course of the ensuing two weeks.

Nullarbor Plain
I never stayed at the houses, instead choosing to take my chances in the bush and road side pullouts where there was often the luxury of a table and the relief of getting off the ant infested dirt. At one such place I had my bottles filled by a charming camper who gave me some solid wildlife advice. “what” I asked, “should I do if a snake decides to slither on past while I am setting up my camp?” “Easy mate, stamp your feet like this (as he wobbled from side to side from one foot to the other) so they feel the vibrations and they will go away”. “And spiders?” “shouldn’t be a problem mate, just don’t go looking for things and you should’t find em”. I took this advice for a few days until I felt I had encountered a lack of wildlife so I took a long stick and a good torch and went for a wander one night. Turns out spiders of all shapes and sizes are quite readily found and interestingly enough the larger the spider the more likely it is to attack the stick where the smaller ones seem more likely to scurry away.  For better or worse the two snakes I have seen have both been at some distance on the road and not a concern for Doris and me.

Great Australian Bight
The most wonderful thing about Australia is the abundance of many types of birds. Big ones, loud ones (lots of loud ones), colourful ones, chirpy ones, and everything in between. I was sitting under a small bush fighting with the ants for the shade reading a book sometime in the mid morning when a flock of parrots each no bigger than my shoe came to investigate what I was up to. As they came in close and flapped gracefully around me I could feel the slightest touch of feathers as they kissed my face moving in closer as I stayed statue still. One of the birds landed on my head and proceeded to stomp around like a cat would trying to get the best position to have a sit down, which is exactly what this feathered creature did. As its mates continued to fly about me this one sat down and made itself quite at home on my head watching the world as if this was the most normal thing in the world. Doris also had a visit and with the passing of a road train the birds took flight in an impressive explosion of green yellows and reds back to the gum trees nearby.

Great Australian Bight
Against all friendly suggestions I went for a bike into the night. I was determined to see some wildlife and fortunately I managed through this endeavour to spot a couple of cheeky Kangaroos, a fox and what I think was a Dingo so it proved a worthwhile effort. That night also produced the longest ride of the trip, clicking just over 200kms for the days ride. A first for me and something I have wondered if I could do for a while.
There is a plague of mice at the moment and they are certainly not shy about making their presence known at the campsite. As the sun dips behind the western horizon in a blaze of beautiful colours the little pintsized rodents come out to play. They run over my feet and up my legs and if left unattended will continue over my back and head and wherever they like. Entertaining to a point but without an off button they can become a pain. Especially when they latch onto any part of you that is touching the mesh door of the tent at night.
Biking out along the longest wooden pier in Australia I came upon a group of Crab fisherman throwing their nets over the side into the shallow water and pulling up big blue crabs with almost every cast. One young lad could not wait to show me the biggest crab he had caught that day.

Fan to keep the sheep cool
Most people want to know about the water situation on the ride. Its fair to say that I have been carrying slightly more than I need but at the same time I would carry that much again. Over the last three weeks I have almost drank my body weight in water but it seems not to be a problem getting it when I need it. Across the plains I was getting it from campervans who would stop for me on the road side as well as the road houses, although they advised me not to drink as they didn’t. When they failed to give me a good reason I took that to mean they just wanted me to buy it at extortionate prices in the shop. There are a few rain water tanks along the way and a couple of tanks filled up periodically at road side pullouts and I make sure this is a last resort as its possible the water is not great quality. So not too many issues there.

Road signs, classic
As for the temperatures, I have had a couple of scorching days in the last week. The average temp has been around 40deg but in the sun on the road has been even hotter. The local news suggested the road was melting not 5o km from where I had just ridden and with my temperature gague maxing out at 50deg by 11am I was not surprised to hear this. I was a little shocked when I sunk up to my rims in sticky black tar as I peddled across a balding patch of road during the middle of the day. A bit of a far cry from the relative mild summer temperatures in Southern Europe when I was there and the winter temperature of -10deg in Scandinavia.

Blue crab Fisherboy
Original length, damaged by fire or storm. Conflicting Stories
Finally, it was with amazement that I wandered so close to the edge of the Australian land mass and tentatively peered over the edge. The huge cliffs are truly amazing and a breathtaking sight. The Great Australian Bight known well for its whale migrations each year is a beautiful blue and the big waves crashing into the shore make a thundering sound during the star studded night. Signs suggest to keep well back and the fence makes this suggestion even more apparent but the lure of the edge was too much and I had to take a look. Well worth it to see the ocean again in such glory and lucky enough to follow close enough to the edge for the next week or so.

Now in Adelaide I am staying with the parents of a cyclist I met in Paris (thanks Clint) and having a much much needed day off, sorting out some new shoes for Doris and recharging my batteries. Headed for the Great Ocean Road and Melbourne where the Aussie leg will finish.

No comments:

Post a Comment