October 18, 2002 - Nullarbor 199km, 124mi **

Since I didn’t get to photograph the Eucla Roadhouse in the darkness last night, we need to start with it today. This makes 6 down, 5 to go, I think.

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The next roadhouse was ridiculously close – only 15km into the morning. Here’s the first mileage sign, the sign announcing Border Village Roadhouse, and the signs leaving WA and welcoming you to SA.

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There is also a quarantine station at the state border. You can’t bring plants, fruits, vegetables, etc. from SA to WA.

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Then there was the Border Village Roadhouse, one of the nicer ones, with a giant kangaroo holding a beer in front. Here are two shots.

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Then, as I was doing breakfast, guess who walked in the door? David from Yorkshire! If you check out the September 22 update, you’ll see him there too! He’s heading west, and this makes the second time I’ve met and talked with him! Here we are!

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He’s now got 9 water bottle mounts on his bike (I have 3). He camps out most of the time but stopped at the roadhouse in the morning for coffee. I think he’ll end up staying there the day – he doesn’t have to be in Perth until December. He’s a good guy, even though he smokes cigarettes as he rides (!!!).

Then, at 186km, came the Nullarbor National Park, the second longest absolutely empty stretch of Nullarbor; the dustiest, driest, most treeless stretch of road yet – flat and largely featureless. The good news was no road kill! (Lack of any trees at all?) People around here know what it means to have the smell of dead kangaroo imbedded in your brain. Here’s my bike taking a morning break on the virtually traffic less Saturday morning.

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For the first time in 5 days, there was water, tantalizingly off in the distance – the Great Australian Bight. It made for a cool crosswind all day. I tried one of many rough gravel roads to head over, knowing that there were cliffs along the coast. Not a good idea on a loaded, small tire bike. But a little later, maybe 95km into the day I got lucky.

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These are the Bunda Cliffs. (see more for more details) They go for a couple hundred kilometers along the Bight, but this just must be one of the best viewing points. This is the first non-desert, non- road thing I’ve seen in days. The cliffs are more dramatic when you’re standing at the top of them, with no guardrails, in a big wind.

The only other thing I came upon today (no interim anything between Border Village and Nullarbor Roadhouse) was this isolated monument.

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It says “Gray’s Well 1868. Site of a heroic attempt by W. Marks to find water for lessees Gray and Schilling. William Henry Gray (1808 – 1896) was a pioneer South Australian colonist. Carin was erected by Gray’s descendents, September 1986.” (I am so sick of road, sign and roadhouse pictures I had to include this. To that point, today was the first day that I can say I got truly sick of biking in Australia. I’m just grinding it out right now.) Two confusing things happened toward the end of the day. First, this sign.

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Who’s kidding who here? I thought I’ve been riding east on the Nullarbor for the past 5 days, and now this sign says it’s just the western edge? The other thing, and I haven’t figured this out yet, is Nullarbor and Nullabor. The spelling goes back and forth on the various signs. What’s with that? Finally, the Nullarbor Roadhouse sign (the first in SA – no warning on the distance to the next one like in WA) and the roadhouse itself.

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There was a big tease here – signs saying “scenic flights”, with photographs of the cliffs and road from the air. I would have paid big bucks, but the pilot is away at a funeral until Wednesday. 🙁

Early morning starts are the best. Quiet, no wind, and earlier finishes. I’m going to try for a 5AM or so again tomorrow.

(Oct 19, 2002, 6:35P, Nullarbor Roadhouse)

– “50 million years of Nullarbor geology can be witnessed from the majestic Bunda Cliffs. The whitish bottom third was formed by the skeletal remains of marine organisms deposited when the Nullarbor region was the bed of the sea 45-50 million years ago. Above is a dark brown layer known as Nullarbor limestone some 30 meters thick, laid down when the ocean rose around 20 million years ago. The cliffs are capped with a thin layer (1-2 meters) of rock and rubble mix of weathered limestone, recemented by soil, chemicals, water and weather. Single rockfalls of up to a thousand tonnes of limestone regularly occur along the Bunda Cliffs, and the clifftops are severely faulted, at times close to the edge.”

– For cyclists: One thing I learned from riding with the Scandinavians is the value of starting slow. After the record day yesterday, it really helped out today.

– The people who work at these isolated roadhouses live there – 10 people in Nullarbor, 2 managers and 4 multi-task staffers, with 2 always off, leaving 4 on per shift.. They get 4 channels of television. The nearest town of over 25 people is 500+ kilometers (300 miles) away.

– Tomorrow is a “National day of Mourning” for the Bali victims. Everything stops at 12 noon for 1 minute. I will do the same. It was really a huge, horrible thing here. In a press release, GW says that we (America) will never forget what Australia did for us after 911, and we will do everything we can to support Australia.

– To find out where I am (maps and notes), check Itineray, Part II.

– I have many more pictures of what I’m going through. I only put about 1/3rd of them on the site. If you want to see something that’s not here, let me know. I may have it.

– A public apology for my bike for laying it down on the ground so much. Unless there’s a sign, there’s nothing to lean it against. The reflector posts along here are cheap, thin plastic things.

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