16th September 2015
On the 16th of September and about one kilometre from Nullarbor Roadhouse a sign proudly tells me I am at the Western End of the Nullarbor Plain. Err, lemmegetthisstraight … I’m at the Western End of the Nullarbor Plain. Sooo, after something like 884 km of ‘doing’ the Nullarbor I haven’t even started to ‘do’ the Nullarbor?
Not sure what I’m meant to feel about this. What exactly does this mean for someone who wants to do the Nullarbor? Perhaps I’ve been wasting my time for the last two weeks or more.
Perhaps in taking a bus to the Nullarbor Roadhouse then ‘doing’ the bit of the Eyre Hightway between the Western and Eastern Ends of the Nullarbor Plain would also allow me to claim that I have ‘done’ the Nullarbor without the weeks of travel to reach the Western End and presumably to reach civilisation again after passing the Eastern End of the Nullarbor. I must reflect on this.
Normally when two behemoths face off on the Eyre Highway I abandon any thought of demanding equal rights to the tarmac and hit the shoulder, the dirt shoulder to put a good two or more metres from the whirling wheels of a monster nearly 40 metres long. No matter that there I am a person and there they are, the drivers, also people. As in one driver per truck and one rider on a bike. It shouldn’t matter that one person is surrounded by 100 tonnes of two-trailered roadtrain and the other is atop perhaps 60 kilogrammes of bike’n’trailer’n’stuff. But it does.
I have had the privilege of an oncoming roadtrain immediately followed by a roadtrain passing me.
The oncoming roadtrain batters me near senseless with a blast-wave any powder-monkey would be proud of, skittering me about the road as it smacks no less than three gears’ worth of speed off me.
Barely had I recovered from this wall of wind when another roadtrain overtakes me, well on the other side of the road, and I immediately regain them three lost gears AND add another two on top as I get sucked down the Eyre Highway in the wake of the monster.
I contemplate my achievement, since being at the Nullarbor Roadhouse seems to me to be a suitable place to be contemplative.
What is The Nullarbor?
- A place: The Nullarbor Roadhouse, where I am now
- A Plain: The Nullarbor Plain
- A Concept: to do the Nullarbor.
As with my relationship with most Gods, so too is mine with the God of Wind. Legend tells of prevailing south-south westerly winds dominating in south west and southern Australia, at least until the big meaty bit were Victoria lies. Which didn’t make for happy cyclists when we had days of strong headwinds as we crawled along the Eyre Highway heading east.
Then we get three days of tailwinds and astoundingly beautiful weather juuust as we are riding The Best Bit where the Best Views are to be found. Perfect.
Thanks Oh God of Wind.
Food. Hmmm … there is only so much food one can carry on a bike. The last supermarket was Norseman, 884 km to the west. It’s the 16th today. I left Norseman on the 1st of September. I’ve managed to top up my larder at various roadhouses but was really looking forward to browsing the stock rumoured to be at Nullarbor. Unfortunately Nullarbor does not have a shop and does not sell groceries. I appreciate the loss of the few extra kilogrammes I’ve managed to accumulate particularly over the last 10 years, but there’s a point where weight loss becomes decidedly unhealthy. Bottom line? I need some decent food supplies. So too does Rob.
Dingo, the manager at Nullarbor looks decidedly wary when I ask about the possibility of purchasing some supplies. He suffers the same problem we do: limited storage space and limited supply opportunities relentlessly under siege by the large number of Gronads (Grey Nomads), truckies, random cyclists and other travellers. To ease his concerns I tell him we’ll return with a list and take it from there. After dinner we present Dingo our list:
Dingo studies the list in my Little Black Book for a moment before going … “Give me a moment, I’ve got this” and disappears taking my Little Black Book with him. Several minutes later he returns with a hugs plastic bag full of our requested supplies. I’d kind of not figured on the scale difference between what a roadhouse considers suitable size for groceries compared to a cyclist in a supermarket. 15$ later we have sufficient supplies now to complete our odyssey.