The wind had been blown out of our sails a bit by the unexpected nights camp, we were quite comfortable in the tent but we’d been banking on a lot of recovery for our hard work and felt cheated.
Another stumbling block was the clocks had changed.
We were now 45 minutes ahead of Western Australian time and on Central Western Time and would gain another 45 minutes in Adelaide…so it was 45minutes later than we thought and will watches and mobile not connecting to the Internet (I’ve never figured out if there’s a way to manually adjust my GPS watch…ridiculous I know! ) only David the Garmin GPS was getting it right! This lead to a slight, and potentially deliberate, setting of the morning alarm for 6am WA time and us leaving at gone 9am CW time (plus a lot for faffing).
One job we’re glad we made time for though was to chase up Eucla and we were delighted they had a budget room and promised an upgrade if one came up, we just needed to get there by 8pm.
It was time to put the pedals down!
Our blessed tailwind had morphed into a brutish crosswind and we battled to keep the average above 13mph. Stops were brief to keep the pace up and the flies off and we made Mundabrilla roadhouse, 72miles later, for a fast turnaround, scoffing sandwiches standing up before hitting the road for a 42mile time trial to get in in time.
The road was flat and the wind dropped allowing us to up the pace to 15s and 16s. The desert was green but monotonous along this great plateau bowl and when we did stop seashells indicated its past as the ocean floor; the great bluff surrounding us once the coastline. Wildlife was sparse except a few birds and a large ginger catlike beast a dusk, not a fox or dog we think…
But still not a “bloody kangaroo!”
We finally hit the far edge of the bowl in the dark and we’re delighted that our efforts paid off to get us in before 7pm. Checking in there was a bit of a rush on but the lady remembered my call and said room 4 still hadn’t turned up…otherwise it was a budget room with the showers in the caravan park. While she served another customer we stuck our heads in the restaurant and by luck noticed it was about shut so got an order in quick. The lady behind the desk was happy for us to eat first and then check in after. By the time we had wolfed down some food it was 8pm and room 4s key was still on the hook and after she tried to call them a few times just to make sure they weren’t coming it was ours!! For a mere $160, but it was luxury! A fantastic shower, kettle fridge amd great drying area for our clothes and even a promised sea view in the morning.
We felt pretty smug packing up our hand washed clothes and gazing out on our sea view the next morning.
Stevie did some bike maintenance and we ordered a solid breakfast ahead of what was planned to be a long day with no stops and a night under the stars before rolling into the Nullabor roadhouse for breakfast the next day. We were meant to pick up provisions for breakfast and lunch here too but skirmish of the shop came up with a few packets of biscuits, some sandwiches which had been around since the night before and plenty of toothpaste. Border roadhouse was only 9 miles down the road so we decided to have a super fast stop there to supply. A brief perusal of the legend of the Nullabor Nymph and we finally rolled out for a very steady start.
Stopping shortly down the road the Border roadhouse had an amazing shop, filled rolls, cake, coffee and… After 6 days without…WiFi! Ideas of a 5 minute turnaround evaporated pretty quickly! Just as we were leaving we stopped for obligatory photos with the giant kangaroo and got chatting to some Germans. They were heading the other way and trying to give away a jar of local honey which isn’t allowed across the South Australian- West Australian border (along with fruit and veg). It was too heavy for us and we were stuffed full of cake abd we enjoyed chatting…but more time evaporated.
We had another set back on leaving…the clocks had changed by 45minutes again. It was not 11:40am and we’d done 9 miles!!
Our plan to hit 110-115 miles was in jeopardy as it was not only the clocks we were fighting but daylight. And we were straight into a headwind.
Deciding to knuckle down we felt better for knowing we could stop anytime as we were camping wild and could afford to ride into the night. The afternoon flew by with brief glimpses over the Southern Bight where whales are often spotted this time of year. Not time for stopping though and before we knew it the sun was setting.
Luckily dusk is long and we got lights on and wrapped up against the bitter headwinds. As it got darker we got more and more cautious of the roadtrains and as much as they always seemed to see us and give us a wide berth no hard shoulder made us wary and their rumbling thunder seemed worse at night. The wind never let up and our average speed plummeted as we got tired and cold. It was clear we were on a hiding to nothing to male our target distance and when a parking area came up at just over 90 miles we bailed into it. The tent was up in minutes, the kettle on for pot noodles and biltong and we were soon bundled up in our cosy down sleeping bags. It was still close to 10pm by the time we conked out and sleep well despite the incessant rumble of roadtrains on the main road.
All too soon there as a faint light in the tent and the noise of birds outside (they don’t sing here…) meant it as time to get up.
We had over 120miles to do and the ruffling of the tent suggested the wind hadn’t dropped. It was also now over 30miles to breakfast and with a limited supply of Tim tams it was touch and go. The headwind was stiff and our speed was barely making 10mph but breakfast called and we pushed on to Nullabor roadhouse. The waitress looked a bit taken aback after we inhaled their famous “Nulla breakfast ” and followed it up with cakes and muffins. Having sated our calorie deficit and freshened up after our night roughing it it was getting late again by the time we left and the thought of 90miles into a headwind made us rethink our plans. Yalata was about 60miles away and seemed like a safer bet to have a final big push to Ceduna tomorrow. A few people chatted to us and we mentioned stopping at Yalata including a couple that pulled over later to give us chocolate…no one said it wasn’t a great idea…
The winds dropped and the terrain became more rolling with patches of woodland which helped morale and we felt determined to have a plan in place to maximise efficiency and minimise faff. It was still way before sunset as we approached Yalata but we were happy to stop for the day and rolled in to… a deserted caravan park and building works where the roadhouse was. Wandering around in a bit of a daze it quickly became apparent this was not even somewhere we wanted to wild camp. Needing water and ideally dinner we made the decision to ride the extra 32miles into the night to get to Nundroo.
We were in better spirits tonight and a downhill start spurred us along, calling out the mileage “100miles!!” “Less than 10 to go!!” helped motivate us as the sky got dusky again and darkness set. We could spot the lights of roadtrains from miles back in the darkness and although they flashed their lights when they spotted us we bailed into the gravelly hard shoulder before they got close.
Stopping for a final break the milky way was as sparkling arch above us in an unpolluted sky of unfamiliar constellations. It was bitterly cold though and we weren’t looking forward to pitching the tent again.
Finally we saw static lights ahead and the roadhouse appeared. Fearing another let down we stopped.and tentatively lent the bike up. A man can out of the shop “can I help you?” he asked.
Ready to fight not to be turned away “are you open?” We asked, it looked a bit dim inside.
“Yes” he said, looking confused by such an obvious question. We looked at each other in shock. Buoyed with confidence “do you have a room and food?” Stevie asked.
“Yes” the man said. On the verge of saying “are you sure” or hugging him we got hussled inside, just about to pick up cold cans of beans for tea the man said “would you like some fish and chips or schnitzel?” I think the answer was quite obvious and soon we were settled in a warm room, devouring schnitzel and celebrating our escape from the Nullabor with a beer!
There are good days…
…there are bad days…
…and there are block headwind days.
Well it was slightly crossed but that only served to make the bike harder to handle and the buffeting from the roadtrains worse.
A good start from the motel riding on our success if last night we tried to stay positive but with massively slow progress to Penong, the most built up place we’ve seen in almost a week, we arrived tired and hungry. The burgers from the cafe fuelled us up but the wind was unrelenting. The countryside stretched greener, with trees and sheep and was more stimulating than the desert but the monotony of ploughing into a headwind wore us down. It was meant to be a shorter day to Ceduna but the miles dragged and we finally crossed the fruit fly quarantine point and then into the town just on time not to put the lights on.
Delighted to get into the first motel we picked we were even happier when the kind owner offered to pick us up pizza!! Truly knackered it isn’t over yet…with the first overnight WiFi in a week there is a lot to catch up on and it’s a busy evening doing admin.
What do you say about a day into a block headwind…
…it’s blooming tough…more than tough!
With flat scenery and very little to take our minds off a long straight, uphill road the miles dragged slowly both in all senses.
Today is day 90…but still hundreds of miles short of 9000 probably best not to dwell on that whole going 9mph.
A brief stop at “the town with a secret” hiding from the bitter wind was all we had time for before pushing on into the night. It got colder and colder even though the wind dropped slightly and the high hopes we had of camping to save a few dollars were left miles behind on the road when we road into Minnipa shivering and exhausted. Luckily there was room in the Inn and the friendly barman even switched the cooker back on to make us schnitzel. Stevie got on the pulses to try and get some wind power in the opposite direction and we curled up in bed with a electric blanket dreading the same tomorrow.
We were meant to be wild camping tomorrow to get our distance done but the locals said it had dropped to 2’c outside (so we’re not being wimps! ) and it wasn’t going to warm up for days!
To say we were a bit reluctant to leave the warm hotel was an understatement, but leave we must and straight into the same wind.
Highlights of today’s ride included:
Taking a left turn
Seeing a hill in the distance
And purchasing a new food/lunch bag from a shop with aisles (we got lost several times)
After spending way too long attaching it to the bike…we definitely weren’t avoiding getting back in the headwinds…
Funnily enough we gave camping a miss tonight and finished early at Kimba to get a basic motel room. The sun was setting though and the temperature dropped quickly making it a trade off between what was more dreaded: the ascents or descents.
The motel did curry which was a novelty since Asia and more catching up on jobs online before bed.
After a bit of a bad start with the rubbish motel trying to serve us burnt fruit toast we cheered up a lot to see the “halfway across Australia” sign! (And the giant galah).
Pushing on into a large national park it was pretty empty but the scenery is changing and hills are appearing on the horizon.
“Emus!” Laura suddenly shouted!
A flock of them were running alongside the road and stopped to stare at us. The wind had moved too and we had crosswinds sweeping great plumes of clouds across the sky. We were making good progress and will the town of Iron Knob being almost creepily quiet we stopped on the side of the road for lunch.
A great long distance view of Lincolns Gap urged us on towards a skyline of hills. Then we spotted kangaroos too and they just stood and stated at us as if to say “what are you looking at? You’re the weird ones here!’
Making Port Augusta before sunset we ransacked the local supermarket for fresh food and a cheap dinner before tracking down our motel.
It was dark when we got there and we were worried our luck was out but finally get through with a call we got let in and rustled up a microwave dinner before bed. We have to fearsome climb of Horrocks Pass tomorrow so it may be an early start!
Total mileage: 8732
Weekly mileage: 719.27
Pizzas: 2 😍
Kangaroo sightings: 2