11 September 2015
We ride off from overnighting at the Mundrabilla Roadhouse. We come across the remains of a caravan perhaps 100 m from the road. I ponder: do the other ‘vaners’ feel a slight twinge of fear and apprehension when they see the remains of one of their own and think “There, but for the Grace of God, go I”?
The north of Scandinavia and the Nordic countries have their summer pestilence mozzies and midges. Australia has its flies. And, like them mozzies and midges they are legion in number. Both are very annoying. There is one notable difference. The mozzies and midges will eat you. The flies will not. Getting used to having a fly sit on me is far more benign that getting used to mozzies (you can never get used to midges eating you) that slight needle prick sensation and curious itching later. Flies just sit.
One thing the flies do or can do that the mozzies and midges don’t really excel at is the art of getting under a pair of sunglasses. Large semi-wrap around polarized-glasses I wear. Most times the fly wander around the edges of them or over the lenses. Illuminating experience watching the under-belly of a fly walk but 5 mm from my eye. But every-now-and-then one manages to find a way under the lens. And they can’t get out. The damned thing plays a pinball game between the lens and my eyeball. A truly weird and wacky sensation.
Winds here are a mystery. As is the weather in general. Can wake up to rains and a couple of hours later have to put on sun protection cream. The punishing headwind we are experiencing mysteriously disappears during a short snack break before swinging around to give us a nice tailwind. Or vice versa. Which sucks.
Eucla’s symbol is EU. I can’t resist thinking about the European Union.
12 September, Eucla. Last town, err settlement, in Western Australia. And the Eucla Pass, that point where the Roe Plains finally gives way to the Hampton Tablelands. Where the fabulous descent of the Madura Pass becomes a long ascent to Eucla.
The old Eucla Telegraph station lies 800 m from the beach. A whole town slowly swallowed by beautiful white sand. The dunes consuming it.
The remains of an old jetty are all that remain of the station’s life-blood, sea transport. Given just how shallow the water is and the height of the remains the jetty must have stretched a good ways into the Southern Ocean. Now its remains are the roosting place for cormorants, terns and the odd pelican. A squabbling mass of birds forever arguing who has right to sit where and next to whom.
I have come to swim here. A dip in the Southern Ocean.
Movement in the water next to the old jetty catch my eye. I see it again and go “No! It can’t be.” I continue photographing the birds but that shape is still there, going under the jetty. Its barely 20 or 30 meters away.
Calling to Rob I see him pointing to it. We debate a little bit as we watch it breach the surface and thrash around a bit. We come to the conclusion: “Yup, that is NOT a dolphin. That is D E F I N I T E L Y a shark.”
Panno, a fisherman from Melbourne of Greek descent identifies the shark as a Bronze Whaler, and promptly sets about trying to catch it. I feel a bit guilty for putting him up to it even as I watch him set up and hear his partner calling out where it is as she scrutinizes the water with powerful binoculars.
I go for a swim anyway. The water was remarkably mild, not as cold as I expected it to be.
Back in camp whilst Rob and I sit and chat about nothing in particular whilst simultaneously admiring our bikes Rob suddenly leans forward pointing at my wheel and says “You’ve got a broken spoke”. That would explain the unexplained noise I head on the bike whilst riding to and from the beach. A broken spoke vibrating.
Fortunately Rob had a spare since I inadvertently left mine behind in the cover of the three-legged stool I abandoned in Jarrahdale on Day 3 of doing the Munda Biddi. It was surprisingly difficult to get the rear-wheel off with the Rohloff hub with its connections and the Gates belt. It was surprisingly simple to replace the spoke. Took about half an hour.
We crossed the border late morning of the 13th. I have been on a resupply-mission for a number of days. In particular I lack a good lunch and my muesli supply is getting dangerously low. Unfortunately the roadhouses do not cater to ever-hungry weight- and space-constrained cyclists. So whilst it’s possible to eat a burger or meal there they don’t stock suitable supplies for the road. Bit by bit roadhouse after roadhouse I have rebuilt my larder to good enough to get me to the next supermarket, which we (hope/expect) will find in Nullarbor (the town). Fearful I might not succeed in this I asked Sturgess in Adelaide to be on stand-by to send me an emergency food-aid parcel.
I also changed the battery of my Cat-eye cycle computer and promptly lost the travel data it had including over-all trip odometer, around 2700 km, as well as the current trip-odometer (the Nullarbor), standing around 720 or so. The device does not have stand-by capacity to retain data when the battery is removed. Fortunately I’ve got the Garmin Montana 650t, which is doing its job commendably.