September 1 — Bremer Bay (pop 250), still a relatively un-spoilt coastal village well known for its blue waters and endless stretches of striking white sandy beaches. It’s a heaven for fishing, swimming, bush walking, bird watching, surfing and families so the place would swell tenfold in the peak season, how awful. No rest for us today, back on the bikes for some sightseeing and later admin stuff. The forecast for the next few days is not great with “Possible Thunderstorms” and “Possible Showers” littering the weather web, and worse not so favourable winds for tomorrow for our 97 klms into Jerramungup. We’ll feast on the remains of my spag bol & salad tonight before retiring early for an early start.
September 2 — Bremer Bay to Jerramungup, 98.11 klms, Avg speed 14.1 kph, Cycling time 6.57 hrs; Total kms 21,824
We’re sometimes asked “Do you get up in the morning & don’t feel like riding”? Luckily we never do, you can’t afford to think like that otherwise it would be a very long & miserable trip around Australia. We’re always checking the weather conditions beforehand so knew today would be physically & mentally challenging—headwinds for the 1st 43 klms, then blustery Cyclone Yasi side winds for the last 55 klms with low temperatures & drizzle thrown into the pot. We’re still enjoying the scenery so much. We’ve cycled so long in dusty, dry and drought affected areas of Australia, we were beginning to forget what colour green was. As we ride along we’re engulfed in scents from Canola, wild Freesias and a variety of flowering native plants that bring birds of all sizes and colours. It really is a treat. So how did we prepare for the ride? - left early (6.45am), had plenty of breaks, had yummy food to look forward to & had iPods to listen to when the going got tough, thank you Michael Buble for an energising last 10 klms. After 7 hours of pedal pushing we still felt pretty good, it’s exciting too to be riding into unexplored territory. The camp kitchen at the Jerramungup Caravan Park was excellent, fully enclosed with a fire place and some pretty comfortable chairs. So after a cuppa tea we set up the tent, and prepared for what was forecast to be a 4°C night. It was with this last matter that we set our minds for a beer and a feed at the local pub. With cold beers and warm fires along with hot soup and a bacon & egg burger for me and the now ubiquitous Chicken Parmagianna (I’m sure Italy has never seen such a thing) for His Grossness, we are sure we made the right decision. Warm and well watered and fed, sleep came easily........
Jerramungup is a wheat belt town & is known as “ Soldier Settlement Country”. At the end of WW11 1,000s of Australian servicemen were repatriated here to return to civilian life. It was the biggest land development project ever accomplished in the western world in such a short period of time. We wandered the streets and found the supermarket and newsagent cum servo cum cafe. We required only two of the three services on offer and so as the cold wind continued to blow outside we sat ourselves down for a coffee and catch up on world events. Whilst today was ostensibly a rest day it was also a preparation day for tomorrow’s ride. With 117 klms to Ravensthorpe it’s a long stretch for a couple of out of condition cycle tourists but we seem to have the wind gods on our side as an almost perfect tail wind is forecast. Tonight we’ll dine in, huddled around the fire in this draughty uninsulated camp kitchen. Come on summer! We keep saying to ourselves “it’s all about layers” but the thing is we can barely move we’ve got so many layers on.
September 4 — Jerramungup to Ravensthorpe, 116.81 klms, Avg speed 18.0 kph, Cycling time 6.28 hrs; Total kms 21,941
A great tailwind shoved us all the way to Ravensthorpe, up & down, up & down the constant undulations, they never stopped & by lunchtime we’d cycled 100 klms. It was one of those days you really enjoyed being on the bike. Pat & Jane, the friendly owners of the Ravensthorpe Caravan Park (best described as “rustic”), directed us to our $30pn donga, we didn't expect much & yep, it was $30’s worth but with a tele, fridge, air con & cooking facilities it kept us happy & warm for 2 nights. Ravensthorpe Shire is one third farmland & two thirds National Parks, Reserves & Crown Land so not many rate payers here. Nickel mining is again being developed in the area & this was evident at the pub doing a roaring trade in food & drinks from the mining boys. It was good tucka too, delicious broccoli soup followed by His Grossness devouring 500 gms of rump steak & me, pork fillet sitting atop a huge amount of mashed potatoes. We waddled back to camp, the effects of a 118 klms ride starting to take its toll. Day 2 was recuperation day, a stroll up the hill to have a cuppa, a bit of sightseeing then back down the hill to pick up supplies for a heart warming chilli con carne. We were glad to have our donga, outside it was cold, windy & wet...bbbrrrr
September 6 — Ravensthorpe to Hopetoun, 50.75 klms, Avg speed 15.5 kph, Cycling time 3.15 hrs; Total kms 21,991
After riding long distances over the past week, it was a nice change to only ride 50 klms this morning, we had expected strong headwinds, luckily they turned out to be strong side winds. Hopetoun is picturesque & is spectacularly situated reaching out into the Southern Ocean between two bays, the coastline is stunning. Accommodation here is expensive, a room at the pub is $90, cabins at the Caravan Park $85 so we’ve pitched the tent in an unpowered site for $28. We thought we were ripped off as the Camp Kitchens were non existent, one containing a sink with hot water, the other containing a sink with cold water & a smelly BBQ. No fridge, jug, toaster or microwave-too much trouble the manager said. Funny how other Caravan Parks have them. Still we’re camping in a great spot near the beach although it’s cold, windy & overcast outside. Our lounge tonight will be the pub, tomorrow we’ll be dining in a chilly camp kitchen eating left over chilli con carne. We mooched around and enjoyed the warm Town Beach Cafe after our ride to Two Mile Beach where we came across a Seal lazying on the rocks at the south end. That was pretty well the extent of our activity as the weather was not all that good with fresh south westerly winds and not much sun. After dinner in the breezy camp kitchen aka the shed, we headed straight for the warmth of the Port Hotel again. With its warm fires, good views and friendly publican we were soon made comfortable before heading back to camp for an early night.
September 8 — Hopetoun to Munglingup, 88.43 klms, Avg speed 13.7 kph, Cycling time 6.24 hrs; Total kms 22,087
Today would be called a daggy day’s riding, I had no energy, pedals kept churning but felt I wasn’t getting anywhere. On top of the strong winds we were rained on several times, not the best day’s riding. We wheeled into the Munglingup Roadhouse & ordered a cuppa, paid $3 each to use the grubby shower facilities, pitched the tent across the road, got eaten alive by mozzies, wondered across the road to pick up our hamburgers & beer & by 8.00pm it was lights out. While the conditions were not all that great we knew that this weather would not last and we are in good part still paying a price for our sins in Albany. Boy we must have been big sinners!!! I think the highlight of the day was the fact that Ol’ Eagle Eye Greg found $2 on the floor of the toilet. This was on top of the $1.10 he found along the side of the road. It’s the most money he’s brought into the relationship for a while so he’s safe for another day.....
September 9 — Munglingup to Esperance, 109.31 klms, Avg speed 14.9 kph, Cycling time 7.18 hrs; Total kms 22,197
One of our longest rides with SE winds so moderate head winds, another tough ride for me, it must be the long distances & winds that’s knocking me about. Greg rarely complains, he just soldiers on & keeps churning his pedals. We did pass miles & miles of beautiful yellow canola though but had repeated enemy attacks from magpies zooming like Kamikaze Pilots onto our helmets. Greg’ll be ready next time.....the Whipper Snipper challenge is about to begin in earnest. The last time we were attacked by mating magpies was in Queensland over two years ago, so it came as a bit of a shock to be swooped upon again. Greg has now turned his Eagle Eyes to looking for material along the side of the road to make his Whipper Snipper, it keeps him amused. The Esperance Wind Farm came into view, a welcome relief & after more than 7 hours cycling we checked into our very comfortable cabin at The Esperance Bay Caravan Park. With food parcels to post along the Nullarbor, lots of sightseeing & office work to do our 4 day stay has happily been extended to 7.
September 16 — Esperance to Salmon Gums, 109.13 klms, Avg speed 13.7 kph, Cycling time 7.54 hrs; Total kms 22,306
A near record breaking day, nearly 8 hours churning the tredlies as we battled blustery, strong head & side winds, a rotten day to be on the bike. Could have camped at Green Patch after 78 klms but pushed on for another 30 klms to Salmon Gums as we had to reach Norseman the following day, gale force head winds were forecast in a couple of days & there’s no way we wanted to be riding that day. Poor Salmon Gums, they’ve been in drought for the past 3 years, the farmers have suffered terribly and the Caravan Park was a dry, dusty place, not one soft green patch to put up the tent. There was a huge undercover BBQ table, I knew where we’d be sleeping that night so after a feed at the pub we rolled out sleeping mats & bags & jumped into bed, it was freezing outside. Suddenly the wind increased & a storm hit Salmon Gums, we couldn’t believe it, it hardly ever rains here, luckily the huge roof kept us relatively dry as we sunk deeper into our sleeping bags listening to all the wild action around us.
September 17 — Salmon Gums to Norseman, 98.90 klms, Avg speed 15.4 kph, Cycling time 6.23 hrs; Total kms 22,405
After warming porridge for brekkie we hit the road at 6.30am, the winds were all over the place but at least more favourable than yesterday. We saw a brown snake slither across the road in front of us, we were attacked by horrible, sticky flies having morning tea & lunch, and Magpies attacked and swooped, but other than that a better ride than yesterday although we were both glad to get here. Norseman (pop 1,000) is a prosperous mining town with over 5 million ounces of gold having been extracted from the fields, accumulatively making it the 2nd richest goldfield in WA. We stayed at The Norseman Hotel in a great balcony room & devoured a delicious fillet steak for dinner on the first night. On the Sunday Norseman was blasted with 98 klms wind gusts, we didn’t mind, we could see all the action outside from the comfort of our hotel room. The following day we walked the sights of Norseman and had a fair cuppa coffee at the Cafe across the road from the Pub. Norseman will be a take off point for South Australia across the Nullarbor Desert when we return in a week, so we reconnoitred the supermarket for supplies. We’re leaving here early in the morning because of the forecast winds so it was an early night after His Grossness stuff his-self with a large Pizza while my good self had a hamburger so big I couldn’t get me choppers around it. No health food freaks here....
September 19 — Norseman to Widgiemooltha, 91.71 klms, Avg speed 17.3 kph, Cycling time 5.18 hrs; Total kms 22,496
Have to keep our wits about us on the roads, we’re in mining country so loads of road trains thundering by. Most of these guys give us a wide berth if they can, lucky otherwise we’d be sucked under their wheels! We were on the road at 6.30am, bit worried with 45 kph winds forecast but our spirits were lifted when a strong side/tail wind hit us & pushed us along, what no headwind today! Plenty of trees uprooted from yesterday’s storm, plenty of pesky flies too. I rode well & only slightly slower than Greg, unusual for me, his average is always higher. By lunchtime we rolled into Widgiemooltha Roadhouse cum Tavern cum Caravan Park, there’s nothing else here except a place to camp, hot showers, a cool beer & a feed, perfect for us. Actually they need to be on the power grid, couldn’t sleep as the generator was SO NOISEY, at one stage I thought a huge MACK truck was idling outside our tent, wouldn’t see us & squash us, had to get out & warn the drive, on checking the generator seemed to be smiling....grrrrr
September 20 — Widgiemooltha to Kambalda, 45.35 klms, Avg speed 18.1 kph, Cycling time 2.30 hrs; Total kms 22,542
I know we’re always talking about the wind, if you’re a cyclist you’d know why. Slight headwind first 20 klms, slight tailwind next 20 & slight undulations too, it was good getting up today knowing we had a short ride ahead. Kambalda is a nickel & gold mining town built in the late 60’s, first sightings of the Caravan Park were impressive filled with appealing looking cabins surrounded by lush gardens. Not so the caravan/camping area best described as lacking in love but we did benefit from the mining boys, the campsite was cheap, $12.50, the washing machines were free & for $15ph we had a 3 course meal in the miner’s dining room plus filled up containers for lunch the next day. We’re trying to be positive here as there’s once again, little to like about mining towns and Kambalda is no exception.
September 21 — Kambalda to Kalgoorlie, 57.42 klms, Avg speed 13.6 kph, Cycling time 4.11 hrs; Total kms 22,599
Relatively tough ride into a relatively stiff headwind on a busy road with lots of trucks, we rode most of the way on the shoulder, lucky for us there was one. For the past 8 months we’ve been devoid of traffic lights but not here in Kalgoorlie (pop 30,000), it’s a large goldfields town, famed for its fascinating gold rush history & fabulous old buildings. 'Kal' was born amid the 1880s gold rush when thousands of starry-eyed prospectors made the 700 kilometre journey east of Perth seeking their fortunes. Vibrant Hannan Street (named after Irishman Paddy Hannan who struck gold in 1893) is lined with majestic old buildings, a rich reminder of the golden era.
Kalgoorlie is still an active mining town and the 3.5 kilometre long, 1.5 kilometre wide Super Pit Mine - where 800,000 ounces of gold is produced each year - is mind-blowing. This massive hole in the Earth is as deep as Uluru with about the same circumference.
We’re staying at The Desert Rest Guesthouse for 4 nights run by the (some bloody) Church, suits our needs, we have access to a kitchen, can walk into town & after cleaning our own room (we offered, looked as though it was last cleaned in 1960) will see if ‘Kal” can dish up a decent cuppa.... Nah, day three in Kal’ and the best cuppa we could get was a the Dome chain of Cafes, sad but true. We feel really skinny in Kalgoorlie as the locals seem to eat and smoke in large measure. Whilst our accommodation is owned and operated by a Church, godliness and cleanliness are definitely strangers. The kitchen is disgusting and confirms Greg’s theory (yes, another one) that there is a direct correlation between the number of notices stuck on the wall requesting cleanliness and the ensuing filthiness. We’ve some admin things to do here like Medicare claims, banking crap (Greg is running a raging war with AMP Bank in which he has now involved the Ombudsman) and a few other bits and pieces and this is a good place to do it. In fact until we arrive in Adelaide later this year this is the largest town we’ll come across for the next few months. We’re also watching the weather forecasts with a keen interest to see if the westerly winds will push us across the desert. So far, so good.......
September 25 — Kalgoorlie to Coolgardie, 41.56 klms, Avg speed 18.9 kph, Cycling time 2.11 hrs; Total kms 22,641
Happy memories of Kalgoorlie? Lots of majestic, old buildings including The Hannan Club (named after our mate, Pat) where we had drinks & a fabulous, cheap curry & also whilst in ‘Kal’ securing a house sit in Adelaide for 4 weeks over the Xmas/New Year period. Not so happy memories of ‘Kal’ - rotten coffee & staying in a guest house that only a gurnie gun could clean, the kitchen was especially disgusting. We happily rode into Coolgardie this morning, our fastest ride since leaving Albany, by 10am we were having a cuppa, only slightly better than its neighbour. Our panniers were bulging more than usual, we’d stocked up with some supplies to feed us over the Nullarbor as we knew we couldn’t get these particular items at Norseman eg. tinned chicken & tinned leg ham, yummy. Once leaving Norseman the next supermarket will be at Ceduna, 1200 klms away.
September 26 — Coolgardie to Widgiemooltha, 77.74 klms, Avg speed 18.4 kph, Cycling time 4.12 hrs; Total kms 22,718
Before we left Esperance, someone mentioned that we’d be peddling slightly uphill all the way to Kal. I think they were right, returning to ‘Widgie’ seemed pretty easy, the favourable side winds would have helped too. The Coolgardie to Esperance Hwy was great to ride on, so little traffic, we pedalled like mad hoping to beat the strong winds forecast & we did, phew....the generator smiled as we rode into the Caravan Park again grrrr. We both ordered roast beef & veges from the Tavern, with a belly full of food & a few beers it was lights out by 7.30pm, what an exciting couple we are!
September 27 — Widgiemooltha to Norseman, 91.90 klms, Avg speed 17.3 kph, Cycling time 5.18 hrs; Total kms 22,810
Up at 5am we hit the road at 6.30am hoping to beat the strong W & SW winds that had been forecast to be followed by storms & hail. Quite often the forecasters get it wrong & lucky for us they did today, we ended up having a great ride with WNW @ 30 kph. I was glad to get off the road busy & noisey with loads of road trains & grey nomads pulling their huge caravans, with a narrow shoulder I felt 3 vehicles get far too close, they got the royal wave, an unusual occurrence, most are considerate & give us a wide berth. By lunchtime we checked again into our comfortable room at The Norseman Hotel Greg declaring he cycled well today, his legs felt lighter a sign he says that he’s getting fitter. Poor fool, it’s actually a sure sign his brain is going to mush.
September 28 to 30 — Norseman
Our plans to start our trip across the Nullarbor Plain tomorrow have been thwarted by a forecast of 4 days of strong E head winds commencing Friday, followed by a strong S side wind the following Tuesday. With limited supplies/water on the Nullarbor we don’t want to be stuck in some awful Roadhouse waiting for favourable winds to appear so we’ve decided to stay put in The Norseman Hotel for another week hoping the wind pattern will change. There’s also a cold shot of air passing through & across the Nullarbor at the moment, it was a chilly 1 degrees this morning, hibernating in our cosy room for another week sounds like the perfect plan.
We’ve picked up some mail from Norseman sent by Greg’s Mum. He will turn 50 somewhere on the road and Robin has thoughtfully sent him a present and card. I’ve whipped away the card until his actual birthday but let him play with the present. He seems happy enough with this gift fit for a 5 year old, maybe he has early onset dementia, see for yourself and click on the link below.
October 1 — Norseman
We think our delayed stopover in Norseman was worth it as westerly winds are appearing on the 7 day forecast from the 3rd of Oct so this is the day we’re leaving to cross the Nullarbor. We’re itching to get going & are looking forward to the challenge with a bit of trepidation throw in, our main concerns being riding on such a busy highway & unfavourable weather.
October 3 to 18 — Crossing the Nullarbor Plain
We expect the 1,215 klm trip to Ceduna in South Australia will take us just over 2 weeks, with limited phone/internet access our next update will be from Ceduna, wish us luck!
October 3 — Norseman to Fraser Range, 106.79 klms, Avg speed 15.6 kph, Cycling time 6.49 hrs; Total kms 22,917
Goodbye Norsey Pub, thanks for looking after us for the past 6 days. Hard to believe but our 6.30am start was abuzz with excitement, a police car drew along side Greg & asked him to move onto the shoulder as the OMCG’s were leaving town, the WHAT? We think it stands for Outlawed Motor Cycle Gangs, those naughty boys supposedly getting up to all sorts of mischief. Further up the road they’d all been shoved into a parking lot surrounded by swat teams, breathalyser units & what seemed to be an inordinate amount of police. We obviously posed no threat & were waved through, 30 mins later the OMCG’s roared past with the coppers in close pursuit. From then on our day deteriorated as guess what, the predicated SW wind didn’t happen, the wind was all over the place, for the first 50 klms it was OK then the next 30 klms it dropped off. 15 klms from our destination I had to stop to have lunch, I’d run out of steam & my thighs were killing me again, too much time off the bike me thinks. Normally we look forward to our lunches but over the next few weeks we’re back on the tinned leg ham again, luckily huge amounts of mustard chutney masks the smell & the taste. What a beaut spot Fraser Range Station is, it covers 437,000 acres & the distance between the North & South boundaries is approx. 160 klms, we didn’t need convincing to stay for 2 days. Greg pitched the tent under a Pepper tree and we showered and prepared ourselves for the predicted storm. The storm came and went, and left drizzle and wind for the next day. There are several walks around the property and we joined a few together to spend 3 hours walking around and climbing Mt Pleasant. They also grow many of their own veges and let us loose to pick a bit of spinach for dinner. We enjoyed Fraser Range and would recommend it to anyone in the area. We were early to bed as we have an early start tomorrow.
October 5 — Fraser Range to Balladonia, 90.72 klms, Avg speed 17.7 kph, Cycling time 5.06 hrs; Total kms 23,008
All the way to Balladonia we pushed up hills & free wheeled down them, well I did anyway, Greg’s legs hardly ever stop churning. We passed lots of fresh & old road kill, mostly skippys, it’s been a long time since we’ve dodged these smelly, squashed blobs, poor things, there’s also lots of empty oyster shells too, a sign we’re close to shellfish territory....yummmm. There’s a great shoulder to ride on at the moment & the traffic’s much lighter than we thought. We treat the road train drivers with respect & keep to the left as much as possible, they’re great guys & move into the other lane when they can. After another 6.20am start & 63 klms later we had morning tea, freshly ground Illy coffee beans with spring water forced though creating a 5mm creme accompanied by freshly baked friands. We wish...... With not too strong variable head & side winds we arrived at Balladonia by midday to be greeted by a staff member who’d been to the “Let’s Be Rude to Customers” school. Our cycling friends has voted this Caravan Park one of the worst places they’d stayed so we expected the worst. Surprisingly we had a pretty decent cuppa, a good start, & even though the camping ground was as dry as a desert there was a basic camp kitchen, BBQ tables & shade to sit at, basic but clean facilities. The food in the restaurant was also surprisingly good, I had a delicious Guinness & Steak Pie. Signs ask that you not wash clothes as water is a scarce commodity but we ignored the signs and spent some time in the shower washing the road grime away from us and our clothes. Greg also filled some water bags as we would be bush camping tomorrow. We’ve received varied reports on the availability of water along the way so our 2 two litre bags are really a precautionary measure. We’ve not had to fill and carry water bags for about 12 months and it’s an extra weight neither of us enjoy.
October 6 — Balladonia to Baxter Rest Area , 116.19 klms, Avg speed 15.4 kph, Cycling time 7.32 hrs; Total kms 23,124
It was a coolish morning as we started cycling along one of the longest, straight stretches of road in the world—146 klms in total battling strong NE headwinds in the process. But with lots of encouraging waves & toots from fellow travellers, listening to interesting stuff on our iPods & morning tea after 52 klms we managed to covered about 100 klms of this long stretch passing one dead camel & cow along the way...poohee. On a downside we were attacked by horrible March flies, even biting us through our cycle nicks, luckily we managed to out ride them. We had a choice of 3 camping Rest Areas & ideally wanted to reach the one with a possibility of obtaining water, 130 klms away but after 116 klms we reached Baxter Rest Area & called it a day feeling pretty exhausted from the winds. It’s amazing how far 6 litres of additional water can be stretched—for our spag bol, hand wash, breakfast & top up of thermos & bottles the next day. By this time the easterly wind was howling and cold, so standing out in the open trying to wash yourself dressed only in your birthday suit was a chilling experience. Once again the clouds looked threatening, but they seemed to circle us before disappearing.
October 7 — Baxter Rest Area to Caiguna, 68.05 klms, Avg speed 15.0 kph, Cycling time 4.32 hrs; Total kms 23,192
Before sunrise we lay in bed & listened to a couple of birds singing away, what a great sound, we think it was a butcher bird & a maggie. We ate our porridge watching the sun rise & at 7am were already pushing our way through NE strong head & side winds, where the hell are these westerlies? We took turns riding in each other’s draught & stopped after 43 klms to have morning tea, finally by midday we arrived at Caiguna Roadhouse congratulating ourselves after finishing that one long straight road. Nearly all of the Roadhouses along the Nullarbor offer accommodation, either motel units (expensive) or a dusty, hard bowl to pitch a tent or park your caravan. We couldn’t believe our eyes, here at Caiguna was a tiny piece of lush, green grass, something soft to sink the tent pegs into & sleep on. It was like gold & definitely ours so after setting up camp, we sat in the shade surrounded by machinery, mounds of rubble & warnings to keep the shower & laundry doors shut to keep the snakes out! We dined on Roadhouse food that night, a surprisingly tasty home made soup followed by burgers & chips, who said cycling across the Nullarbor doesn’t have it’s benefits!! We picked up the 1st of 3 food parcels we’d posted to ourselves from Esperance and amazingly the glass jar of pickles survived the journey. As Greg says, this is absolutely essential as a mask to get the tinned ham down his gullet. Clearly a culinary experience, this isn’t. Since leaving Norseman we leave Western Australia electricity grid so every property and roadhouse has its own diesel powered generator. Some are located out of earshot, most are situated as close as possible to anyone silly enough to pitch a tent, so we slumber to the dulcet tones of the diesel.
October 8 — Caiguna to Cocklebiddy, 66.41 klms, Avg speed 15.0 kph, Cycling time 4.25 hrs; Total kms 23,259
We saw & heard loads of budgies today, a great sight, last time we saw them was a couple of years ago heading across the Gulf. Also some of Australia’s largest rural properties can be found north of the “town”. Just east of the Caiguna Roadhouse we shift into a little known and quite distinct time zone. We advance our clocks by 45 minutes to deal with our easterly longitude. As we ride along we’re OK but stopping means being gang raped by flies. So when we had morning tea after 46 klms they’d told their mates, they’re driving Greg mad, where do they all go when not menacing us? It wasn’t a long ride today but tough, again unfavourable, blustery winds from the NE swinging around to the N, we took turns to draught one another again. Greg said I rode well and kept up with him for the last 10 klms, we can both feel our fitness increasing already. Cocklebiddy camp site was another dusty bowl so we treated ourselves to a very comfortable motel unit. Lucky for Greg the Rugby World Cup was on, he had a wonderful afternoon yelling at the tele from the comfort of the bed. We were going to stay at Cocklebiddy for 2 nights but there’s nothing attractive here so we’re just going to keep moving. Saying that we would have loved to visit the Eyre Bird Observatory 42 klms SE, it’s Australia’s first bird observatory but hard to get to without wheels.
October 9 — Cocklebiddy to Madura Pass, 92.68 klms, Avg speed 15.9 kph, Cycling time 5.48 hrs; Total kms 23,351
Saw more budgies & emus too, had nice goodies at morning tea, finally caught up with Jacob walking from Perth to Sydney raising money (see photos), had a fantastic view at Madura Pass as the road descended from the plateau to the coastal plain & we kept warm & dry in another motel room. We checked in and had just had lunch, unpacked all our wet gear and were getting ready for a shower when the plumber arrived to fix something next door and turned off the water for, he said, “15 minutes”. Two hours later we were asked to move rooms, so we packed it all up again and traipsed across the car park to another room, grrrr... Greg stuffed the washing machine with clothes and then repeated the process with the dryer. Dinner was prepared on the path outside our room, de-hy mince meat, de-hy mashed potato, de-hy veges. Gets ya’ salivating doesn’t it?
Daily weather report—rain, rain & more rain, wind, wind & more strong SE unfavourable winds (have yet to type a W). We got drenched in spray from passing road trains, not great riding conditions, but all part of the deal. Greg has a birthday tomorrow hopefully it’s a better day.
October 10 — Madura Pass to Mundrabilla, 117.98 klms, Avg speed 16.3 kph, Cycling time 7.14 hrs; Total kms 23,469
Greg, how would you like to spend your 50th birthday? I know what about a 6.10am start followed by a 7 hour cycle in strong & blustery SE headwinds, meeting stupid people at lunch as you devour your tinned leg ham sandwich. No? Well what about seeing a protective daddy emu with his 7 kids, having sumptuous peanut butter sandwiches for morning tea, having a picturesque camp, finding balloons in the tent, opening cards that Wellsy had arranged to be sent to Norseman Post Office, calling your Mum, having cold beers at the bar chatting to road train drivers, John & Carl & being offered accommodation in South Australia, discovering the lovely people at Mundrabilla Roadhouse had decorated a birthday table for you, having your first wine in 7 days & finally having the Rebel Motor Cycle Gang sing “Happy Birthday To You” as you blew out your candles on your apple pie, again kindly presented by those lovely people at the Roadhouse. And of course, I forgot to mention your birthday meal—Chicken Parmiagiana, of course! Happy 50th Birthday Greg. It was a significant change from the way Greg celebrated his 40th birthday, but I think he enjoyed it all the same. We picked up the 2nd of our food parcels here and it was with some trepidation that we opened it as we think it was this parcel that had been invaded by mice. It hadn’t so it must be the next one waiting for us at Nullarbor Roadhouse.
October 11 — Mundrabilla to Eucla, 67.44 klms, Avg speed 12.8 kph, Cycling time 5.14 hrs; Total kms 23,537
Brrrrrr...a chilly morning greeted us as packed up camp, our bowls of hot porridge & cups of tea warmed our fingers, too much fun, time to get on the road. Despite getting up early we love watching the sun rise, waiting eagerly for it’s warmth to peel off some layers, a good opportunity too to spot wildlife, today we saw lots of skippys & a snake slither across the road, yuk! It was a rotten riding day today, one of our slowest as we fought awful, strong ESW 22 kph side winds gusting to 37 kph. It took us over 5 hours to ride nearly 70 klms & as we crawled up the pass onto the plateau to Eucla there was a highlight to the day, we saw the azure waters of the Great Australian Bight. After 7 days cycling & covering over 600 klms we decided to have a break & rented a budget cabin for 2 nights. For $70 per night the cabin was relatively cheap for the Nullarbor but all you got was a bed & one powerpoint, still it was clean & warm & gave us the opportunity to recharge camera batteries, iPods, Kindles, phones & our trusty radio, not that we’re picking up any reception at the moment, bummer. Despite a mouse plague in the camp kitchen at Eucla we enjoyed our rest & gazed endlessly at the blue waters of The Great Australian Bight before us. There’s a lot of history here as it was settled in the late 1800’s for sheep farming and later as a busy telegraph station joining the east and west of Australia. There’s also a weather station here that provides weather data to Western Australia’s eastern parts and South Australia’s western and northern regions.
October 13 — Eucla to Rest Area, 94.90 klms, Avg speed 14.4 kph, Cycling time 6.34 hrs; Total kms 23,632
Leaving at 6.30am and after dodging significant amounts of road kill we made our way to the border. It was an exciting day, after cycling around Western Australia for the past 1.5 years & covering 10,000 klms we crossed over into South Australia, our 4th State/Territory. We were also now into another different time zone, it was now 7.45am Central Daylight saving time (CDT), good, the sun will now set later but bad that it will rise later too. We had stunning views of the ocean for most of our ride today and pulled off the road to see the Bunda Cliffs, wow! A pretty hot day, a driver kindly stopped and gave us 2 bottled of chilled water, thank you Rudi, we were carrying lots of water though, Greg an additional 13 litres & me an additional 4 litres for our bush camp tonight. We had morning tea after 55 klms, the winds all over the place, oscillating from N to S in the morning followed by a strong E headwind in the afternoon, yippee. Another downside for the day was that we’d lost our wide shoulder to ride on, over in WA it was great but now in SA it’s virtually non existent. Surprisingly the Eyre Highway isn’t as busy as we thought, there’s plenty of times with no traffic, still when the road trains and Grey Nomads appear our antennas are turned up high. Around 3 ish we pulled into our Rest Area for the night, we were lucky, this one had a table & bench with covered roof so we pitched our tent close by. After endless cups of tea we devoured Greg’s feast of savoury mince, de-hy peas & deb mashed potatoes, sad to say it was yummy. Filling our stomachs with food is one pleasurable moment on the bikes. I thought I was going to die that night, a terrific electrical thunderstorm passed over us, I had visions of being frizzled by the lightening and/or being hit by huge balls of hailstones, I’d got dressed to make an emergency exit under the shelter, needless to say we survived the lightening, killer mice & marauding elephants. Greg was deeply concerned, he slept though it all, how can he do that!! For some strange reason nobody else camped at this Rest Area, we couldn’t understand, it was clean & had plenty of space, did they know something we didn’t!
October 14 — Rest Area to Nullarbor, 106.84 klms, Avg speed 24.2 kph, Cycling time 4.24 hrs; Total kms 23,739
With the rain last night Greg had to pack a dirty & wet tent, more weight to carry for him. We’re also still coming to terms with the SA time zone & didn’t get on the road until after 8am which is late for us. Today though was a fantastic riding day, we FINALLY had SW almost perfect tail winds, this is what riding across the Nullarbor should be like. We rode 10 kph faster than yesterday & cover over 100 klms in 4.30 hours. We noticed how quiet it was riding with a tail wind, you forget how noisy head winds can be, you see more of the scenery too don’t have to keep your head down battling the wind. I rode like the clappers in fear of the wind changing, Greg could just keep up with me, we saw a different view of the Bunda cliffs, magnificent. Along the way a car kept stopping then would ride along side us, it was Nigel, a commercial photographer, taking photos of us riding together. He waited for us at the Nullarbor Roadhouse & bought us a cuppa to hear our story, we’ve put a couple of his shots on the web. Another hard, dusty campsite at the Roadhouse, with the wind blowing even harder we paid $57 for a donga, pretty poor value, a bed & that was it, no power point & it smelt of mice, luckily non seen. I went to collect my last food parcel, the Roadhouse had called us in Norseman to tell us about their mouse plague & a mouse was enjoying my parcel, he certainly did and had chomped through our oats, sultanas, muesli bars, coconut power, dried peas, potatoes & biscuits. Not so the tinned ham, chicken or processed cheese (what’s in this cheese that a mouse wouldn’t like!), luckily with the supplies I was still carrying & the bread, fruit, toms & lettuce I could purchase we survived the rest of the journey.
October 15 — Nullarbor to Rest Area, 94.85 klms, Avg speed 17.3 kph, Cycling time 5.28 hrs; Total kms 23,833
We’re still not used to the SA time, we’re now getting up in the dark & long for the first light to appear at 6.30am, we’ve seen some glorious sunrises though. This morning it was freezing cold so wrapped in 4 layers we set off. We were so close to the Head of the Bight we couldn’t cycle pass & not see it. It meant a 24 klm detour but it was worth it, we saw 6 whales, some with calves. They were so close you could hear them, we got there at 8.30am & were the only ones to witness this beautiful sight, different views of the Bunda cliffs too, it was magic. After a fair cup of coffee at the visitor centre we headed back to the Eyre Highway & with a tailwind hoped to reach Nundroo, 170 klms away. After tackling Yalata’s Hills & now strong side winds we knew this was impossible but weren’t worried as we were carrying extra water for a bush camp. We hit March flies again but this time they attacked in swarms biting to draw blood through our cycle nicks, rotten things. They bite Greg but leave no mark, not so me, they left plenty of itchy mounds, in all our Nullarbor research we found no warnings about these critters. We fought them under our huge mossie net over lunch, it was a disaster as there were more inside the net than outside, luckily my Bushman’s Repellent kept them away, Greg however, was not a happy chappy We found a lovely, peaceful bush camp away from the road but the March flies came too. I delved into my food bag to cook tonight’s dinner, with whatever the mouse had left the choice was limited but did end up cooking a poo coloured looking chickenee style risotto smothered in smelly parmesan cheese, it tasted better than it looked, obviously the March flies thought differently & finally buzzed off.
October 16 — Rest Area to Nundroo, 75.10 klms, Avg speed 14.9 kph, Cycling time 5.02 hrs; Total kms 23,908
Nothing disturbs Greg’s sleep once he goes to bed, not the road trains rumbling past in the distance or the wild life scratching around our tent. Once his lights are out, they’re out! I wish I could be the same. We haven’t adapted to SA time yet so these dark mornings are playing havoc with our early starts especially when my cycling buddy is now sleeping in. On yet another chilly morning we started out late, 8am, but the coldness made it easy to climb the hills ahead of us and another bonus, we seemed to have lost those wretched March flies. On a bad note, more blustery SE head & side winds, goodbye westerlies, so today was head down, bum up & keep churning those pedals. Nundroo Roadhouse was one of the few places along the Nullarbor to have a website, it seemed a great place to spend a couple of nights & a sign 5 klms back said they served espresso coffee, fantastic. Joy turned to disappointment as we rode in, yes they were renovating the place but that’s no excuse for a dirty, messy place. Still for $8 per camp site on grass too & to have access to hot showers & laundry facilities it was good value. The website spoke of an “impressive restaurant” inviting diners to “Try the Nundroo Road kill Challenge (an impressive 1 kg rump. If you eat it you get a t-shirt)”. Greg was seriously interested (gross) to get the t-shirt but with other temptations such as Wombat Burger he played safe & ordered a 300 gm steak with vegs, I had vegs too accompanied by bacon, eggs & tomatoes, Greg still puzzled why I’d eat breakfast food for dinner.
October 17 — Nundroo to Penong, 81.10 klms, Avg speed 14.5 kph, Cycling time 5.33 hrs; Total kms 23,990
Now we’re setting the alarm to rise early, it’s working as today we hit the road at 7am. We now expect bad winds each day and today was no exception, more blustery head & side winds, considering the conditions we’ve been riding in we’re coping pretty well, draughting each other & listening to our iPods definitely helping as well as yummy peanut butter sandwiches & cups of warming tea for our break each mid morning. On a sad note we saw lots of dead wombats, the Nullarbor is filled with loads of roadkill—skippys, snakes, eagles, emus, bob tailed lizards, camels & bunny rabbits but today we had to include the cute wombats. On a happy note we rode into Penong at lunchtime, a town that was more than a combined roadhouse/motel/caravan park. This town had houses, a school, power poles, a pub, general store, caravan park & a roadhouse a sign, we’re finally back into civilisation. The general store stocked delicious looking fruit & vegs, I had to ask the owner if she’d undercharged me, it was so cheap compared to what we’d been paying over the past fortnight. We sat outside & feasted on fresh bread, ruby red tomatoes, lettuce & our last tin of leg ham, Greg vowing never to eat the stuff again. Desert was cheap, juicy oranges (we paid $2 each across the Nullarbor) followed by a cup of Lavazza coffee while eyeing the pub across the road advertising “Cold Beer” & “Meals” - easy to guess where we’d be going tonight. We stayed at the Penong Caravan Park, no grass here, however, it was all spotlessly clean & offered great facilities with a welcoming owner too. With washing blowing in the wind & feeling refreshed after showers we walked to the pub, chatted to the locals over many beers & ordered steak, chicken parmiagiana, chips & a “help yourself to the salad bar” - we couldn’t have been happier being back in civilisation & knowing tomorrow we’d finish riding across the Nullarbor.
October 18 — Penong to Ceduna, 76.75 klms, Avg speed 15.4 kph, Cycling time 4.58 hrs; Total kms 24,066
The alarm went off at 5.15am & Greg lit our noisy Dragonfly stove, we needed hot water for a cup of tea, porridge & to fill our thermos. We woke our camping neighbours (sorry) but I always remember someone saying “if you want peace & quiet, don’t stay in a Caravan Park”, we try to be as considerate as possible. We rode past Penong’s ‘windmills’ that help supply the settlement with water, we’re back in farming country too passing fields & fields of wheat soon to be harvested. Today the wind was ridiculous, really ridiculous, 39 kph gusting to 52 kph NNE side winds, it was a struggle to keep the bike upright and straight, the situation was so stupid I burst out laughing, apparently a Wellsy trait so Greg informs me. We watched a crow struggling to reach a power line to rest, as we turned up our iPods over the noisy wind. After 20 klms the road veered right giving us slightly more favourable conditions & after 50 klms we sought shelter for morning tea, more peanut butter sandwiches washed down with cups of dusty, gritty tea. Finally we saw Ceduna in the distance & with 7 klms to go the road turned S treating us, wouldn’t you know it, to a favourable tailwind! We’re staying here for the next week in a cabin, to reacquaint ourselves with the simple pleasures in life eg. a fridge, kettle, supermarket etc.
Our cycling stats crossing the Nullarbor:
Cycling period—3 to 18 October 2011—16 days with 2 rest days
Avg klm per day-89.7
Avg klm per hour-16.02
Avg cycling hours per day—5.43
· Staying at Fraser Range Station
· Encouraging waves from travellers
· Celebrating Greg’s 50th at Mundrabilla Roadhouse
· Being attacked & bitten by March flies
· Trying to ignore the mouse plague at Eucla
· Battling strong, blustery & unfavourable winds every day excect for 1!
· Seeing & hearing whales & their calves at the Head of the Bight
· Seeing the magnificent Bunda Cliffs
· The consideration shown to us by the many Road train drivers, thanks guys
· Seeing a unusual “green” Nullarbor due to recent rains
· All the above & much more made it a worthwhile challenge, we’d definitely do it again!
October 18 to 24 — Ceduna
Even though we stayed in Ceduna for 7 days, it took the first 5 days to update our travel diary & hundreds of photos on the web, wash the bikes & everything else in sight that was covered in Nullarbor dust & catch up with friends & family via email & phone, it’s always a busy time. There was sightseeing to do as well as our daily coffee at Bill’s Pizza (thanks Anna). We also squeezed in a lunch at The Ceduna Foreshore Hotel Motel, we’re really disappointed in the food, Greg’s pork ribs were covered in a black tar substance, however, the highlight was watching a terrific storm approach from Murat Bay. What we’ve noticed already since arriving in South Australia is that the architecture looks more permanent. This is not surprising as good parts of Western Australia have been relatively recently settled not more than 100 years ago. South Australia having been settled by the whities for longer and with farming wealth having accrued the architecture looks less like a toilet block and more reflective of the era in which settlers moved here. Stone houses, large stone churches and more civil infrastructure stand as stark differences to many parts of eastern Western Australia.
October 25 — Ceduna to Smoky Bay, 44.42 klms, Avg speed 14.6 kph, Cycling time 3.02 hrs; Total kms 24,111
After averaging nearly 100 klms per day crossing brrrr the Nullarbor it was nice change to ride under 50 klms. The Flinders Highway was blissfully quiet with easy rolling hills all the way, it still took us 3 hours though ploughing through strong head winds, brrrr, chilly too. A feral cat raced across the road in front of us, not a nice pussy that one plus we saw a “sleeping” dingo or fox. We stayed at Smoky Bay 2 days and really liked this laid back fishing village. Its main industry is oyster farming, there are 16 businesses here, and there’s loads of fishing to be done too. The population of 200 swells to 1000 in the summer months, with a good chance of catching King George Whiting, Tommy Ruff, Salmon Trout, Garfish, Squid & Blue Swimmer Crabs plus cheap, cheap oysters to devour—anybody want to sell their shack? We loved the Caravan Park too, very small, spotlessly clean, it’s main occupants retirees who loved to fish and share their catch, lucky for us, Greg’s prize Trevally & mine a couple of blue swimmer crabs. Wednesday night the local sport club opens and we wander up for a couple of beers and a chat before heading back to the well equipped camp kitchen for feed and an early night. The wind is still cool but drops a little at night, just enough for the mossies to feel O.K. & come out for a feed. We retreat to the sanctuary of our tent...
October 27 — Smoky Bay to Streaky Bay, 74.89 klms, Avg speed 18.0 kph, Cycling time 4.09 hrs; Total kms 24,186
By midday, thanks to somewhat favourable winds, we were having a great coffee at Mocean Cafe overlooking the jetty at Streaky Bay. There’s something addictive about Streaky, Greg even declaring he could live here. It’s small, picturesque with several cafes, a bakery, pub, great butcher, the freshest local seafood & fish & for those who love to fish, there’s fishing, fishing & fishing. The Foreshore Tourist Park where we camped overlooked Streaky Bay, to the left farming land came right down to the water & to the right the jetty straddled the water, with magnificent sunsets the whole bay looked on fire. This place was named by Captain Matthew Flinders in 1802, inspired by bands of colour in the water that he thought indicated a large river entering the ocean, turned out to be oils given off by seaweed. The tourist brochure said “relax & unwind”, we’re good at doing that so we’re staying for 3 days. The usual, coffee, newspapers, walking around town looking at the sights including some beautiful Californian Bungalow and Art Deco style houses, shopping for food. Friday evening Greg announce that it was about time I took him out to dinner. The choices were the Pub which looked O.K or Mocean. Mocean it was and we weren’t disappointed, the food and service were very good indeed. I had oysters, of course, while Greg stuffed a very nice smoked pork terrine down his gob. I followed with a beautiful bouillabaisse and His Grossness Snapper, spuds and veges. We completed this fine repast with a cheese plate, oh it’s nice to be back in civilisation. The following morning we had neighbours, cyclist neighbours who had also just crossed the Nullarbor. We chatted as you do and it was nice to share experiences and swap road stories. We shared cooking duties on our last night which is a rare thing. Greg excelled himself with some lovely fresh prawns sizzling in very garlicky oil with a dash of chilli, I prepared a sumptuous Thai green chicken curry. We’d better get cycling or we’ll explode!
October 30 — Streaky Bay to Venus Bay, 83.38 klms, Avg speed 15.9 kph, Cycling time 5.13 hrs; Total kms 24,269
6.30am on the road and another chilly morning, we didn’t peel of our layers until lunchtime. More blustery, cool winds swinging round all over the place, SE then SW, it was hard to get a rhythm, hard to draught as well. We had a steady climb all the way to Murphy’s Haystacks, where we had morning tea overlooking the boulders, then a steady decline all the way to Venus Bay. Murphy’s Haystacks aren’t haystacks at all but huge granite monoliths crafted and sculptured by wind, rain and erosion over years to produce rounded forms which as the name suggests, look like haystacks from a distance. We were going to stay at Port Kenny Caravan Park, it looked tired & unloved so despite the winds we happily rode another 17 klms to Venus Bay (pop 20). This tiny place is renowned for excellent fishing, that was evident at the Caravan Park, full of fishing folk. A beautiful spot to stay for the night though overlooking the turquoise waters of the bay. We managed to pitch the tent, and although there’s no grass here we’re on crushed shells in a relatively sheltered spot, and even found some half decent coffee before wandering around to check out the sights. The view of the coast is spectacular, but wind absolutely howled, so we beat a hasty retreat to the camp kitchen where Greg prepared the extremely slimming chicken fillets with pesto & cream on penne pasta, topped with parmesan cheese. It’s yummy but we’d better cycle extra hard tomorrow....
October 31 — Venus Bay to Elliston, 64.90 klms, Avg speed 14.6 kph, Cycling time 4.25 hrs; Total kms 24,334
Terrible, blustery winds again, I had a hissy fit & declared I was going to head to Adelaide & stay until the winds had stopped, not sure how I was going to get there! There was a highlight on this ride though, Colton Bakery, when you see the “OPEN” sign you can call in & purchase wood-fired bread & drop your money into an honesty pay system. We did just that & bought bread & sticky buns too. Their dog Dobie Gille Gillis (a old red Kelpie) welcomes all customers and ensures the pay by sitting just under the window where you access to goodies and leave your dough, ha ha ha, (lousy pun Greg!). The sticky buns didn’t last long and went well with our morning cuppa, which we had adjacent to the bakery. The bakehouse, old Colton School (now the baker’s private residence) & church are the only buildings remaining from this old pioneer town. The Bakery is well known to tourists with many calling in while we were there. You have to get in early though as all the goodies sell before midday. The baker guy came out to have a chat and it turns out he used to squat in the building he now owns. Like many others here it was the surfing that bought him to this part of the world and now he’s made his life here. It was a pretty ride to Colton passing lots of sand dunes , Lake Newland & rolling hills. Elliston (pop 377) is situated on the shores of spectacular Waterloo Bay & has some of the most spectacular & dramatic coastline on the Eyre Peninsula, it’s also a great place for fishing, swimming, surfing & bush walking. We stayed for 2 days & celebrated Melbourne Cup at the local pub surrounded by fashion parades & fascinators. $25 bought us a 2 course lunch that was haphazardly served, but of pretty good quality. We mixed with fellow tourists and locals until way past when we should have left. Greg was feeling a bit flush with funds as he’d had some small success with the sweeps getting two 3rd places. Dinner plans went out the window and we finally walked back to camp just as the sun was setting. A quick shower and recovering the washing from the line before bed, we’re up early tomorrow, again to see if we can get a few kilometres completed before the headwinds.