Hi y'all! :-)
I know it's been several days since this Blog has been updated, but nil Internet access (or even mobile coverage!) has made making daily updates impossible! However, I have been busy (in the background) keeping a word.doc 'diary', so a massive Blog Blast, as follows! ;-)
Monday night – a sumptuous yummy dinner of marinated lean pork strip and tasty salad, scrummy wine, loads of chatter and laughing … Next day, a rest day at Carey Gully, to relax with our friends … sleep in, late brekky, Blog a bit, wander the garden of my guru mentor, take loads of pics, late lunch of gourmet baguettes with wine, which knocks Chris over (nana nap needed) … below, just a small selection of pics from MsD's garden ...
Tuesday … alarm set for 6, we aim to leave by 7am – ha!! Best laid plans ;-) By the time Atomic coffee was made, breakfast eaten, chat some more, pack the bikes, say our goodbyes, it was already nudging 8! ;-)
Bit of a “Heart-starter” negotiating the short gravel section of MsD’s drive onto the road proper, and we’re away … sort of … before too long, we’ve missed the necessary turn-off to take us on to the Freeway, and we’re stuck in the rat’s nest of windy roads through Stirling! Two unplanned U-turns later, and we’re finally on the correct road to join Adelaide style peak-hour traffic ;-)
Somewhere in North Adelaide 50ks up the road we finally get to stop for fuel, fully expecting to have been able to stop much sooner! Port Wakefield is a rest stop, and elderly Darby and Marlene (with two yapping dogs in their Winnebago, towing a trailer with what looked like a big “super scooter” under the tarp), warn us of the storms in Perth … erm, thank you, but maybe those storms will have pushed off by the time we get there, in a week’s time ;-)
The vagaries of maps! Next rest stop was supposed to have been a Mambray Creek Roadhouse, which turned out to be non-existant! So we pushed on to Port Augusta for lunch and fuel, where we meet “Ian”, who had lost his mate some 300ks ago … no mobile, no rider comms, mate is in his 70’s with a heart prob! As we’re about to set off again, we briefly chat to a couple of cyclists on their touring bikes, each towing a trailer – they’re headed for Albany!! ETA? Four weeks!
On the road again, and we miss the turnoff for Kimba … another U turn, and on the right track … along the way, the huge “Iron Knob” is a very impressive sight … unfortunately, pic opportunity unavailable due to the narrow road with soft gravelly edges … onwards to Kimba and the “Giant Gala” for a rest stop … according to the sign on the local shop above the door, we are supposedly half way across Australia! Well, wouldn't that rather depend on where you started from? ;-)
Some momentarily distracting 'amusement' from the shop window:
And here's where we're headed next:
Fuel at Kyancutta, before taking a left towards Streaky Bay Hotel Motel, to overnight …
Dinner - yummy deep fried Camembert with Cranberry jelly for entre, King George Whiting for mains, accompanied by a rather nice 2004 Port Lincoln Shiraz … tomorrow, we tackle the Eastern side of the Nullarbor
PS. No mobile phone coverage here, unless you’re with 3G (thanks Telstra!) and no internet access unless you want to pay for it with your credit card!!
Wednesday – gorgeous sunny morning to start the day with!
We casually pootle (at 100ks/hr) back along some of the road we took last night to get to Streaky Bay, before turning left onto Flinders Hwy – sea on our left, sunshine on our right – luverly! Have decided that the first morning leg on each day so far has been the most pleasurable!
Over the past couple of days, there’s been loads of motorbikes going in the opposite direction. There had been a big Ulysses “AGM” in Perth about three weeks ago, approximately 3,000 members had attended (number varied, depending on who you spoke to). Most folk had long arrived home, but some were still making the most of it as an good excuse for a holiday … so there were lots of opportunities to offer a friendly wave as they went by … not everyone waves back – there’s at least one “grumpy old fart” in ten who can’t be bothered ;-)
And the Cops won’t wave back either … except one, just before the WA border, who was waving at us before we saw him! ;-)
First rest stop Penong, and we chat to a fella parked there who owns a big shiny cpper coloured Honda Goldwing – 1.8 liters “under the hood”!!
Nundroo ... fuel stop, a blast from the past and we grab a sandwich to keep us going …
Nullarbor Road House … the last fuel stop before getting to the WA border and Eucla … even though it’s outrageously expensive at $1.79/liter, neglect to fuel up at your peril!
Finally, we reach the first pic opportunity at Great Australian Bight … it’s a dirt track, and the viewing point is a good 400m off the road- we opt to leave the bikes parked safely (we hope!) on terra firma (bitumen) on the side of the road and hoof it … within seconds, we’re mobbed by bloody little black flies! Despite the heat, I decide to leave the helmet on, visor down - the lesser of the two evils – while Chris is immediately doing the ‘great Aussie wave’!
The trudge in bike boots to the edge of the Great Australian Bight was oh so worth it! It is spectacular beyond belief, and the few pics I have here just don’t do it justice – it truly is one of Australia’s most beautiful places to visit! Long way to get there for the view but HIGHLY recommended!
Back in the saddle, it’s a relief to escape the flies, and soon we come upon two other viewing points – we keep going, but note to visit at least one of these on our return journey … then “The Doctor” of the Great Australian Bight kicks in and the temp drops a noticeable and welcome 10 degrees at least, and a Southerly change in wind direction considerably eases the wakes of the oncoming road trains.
Border Village quarantine stop … the fella in the pic did his utter best to not be included! Heheee!
He and his staff would have had a busy time of it when the Ulysses bikies were passing to and from their AGM three weeks ago ;-) We heard that the guards were insistant on checking everything, and too bad if your esky was buried beneath a ton of almost inacessable luggage! When we arrived at the checkpoint, there was just a ute with horse-float attatched … Of course the guard wanted everything opened, panniers, soft luggage bags, topboxes, and was especially interested to know if we had any honey aboard … mate says Chris, we’ve just come across the Nulla in the warmest part of the day, something like honey wouldn’t survive the trip! But you’re welcome to check and open anything you like … he just settled for both topboxes and that was it ;-)
Onwards to Eucla, a shower, an air-conditioned room and??? Beer!!
Below, just a few reference markers ;-)
We were as yet too early for the dining room, so we took a short walk to a viewing point behind the units … unknown to us, we were actually on private property (noticed the sign as we left – ooops! Oh well …) but the view was gorgeous in the setting sun – didn’t bring the camera though, bugger!
At last, it’s “beer o’clock!” and we get settled with the ubiquitous Nobby’s Nuts and two (very expensive, $6 EACH!!) Coronas and dissected the day’s happenings … soon after, we get chatting to a tall gent and his wife - Steve and Cath – whom we ended up having dinner with … two very knowledgeable and well-travelled people: Steve the rider, Cath the pillion, on a Honda ST1300, towing a small trailer.
Steve tells us about one of the road etiquette rules truckies operate by in the Nulla: move to the left of their oncoming approach and they will move over to their left as much as safely practical – if you don’t, they won’t bother either and you’ll get the full force of the ‘wake’! Advice is well noted, especially when the wind is blowing from the North! ;-)
Thursday –we wake to a windy morning, and up a bit too early for breakfast, so we go for another walk to the view behind the units, with camera this time! Knowing that yesterday we were on ‘private property’, we walk to another viewing point, which was nowhere as good as the private property view point, so we pretend to not know any better (if found) and got to see the sun hit the clouds and the dunes …
Breakfast, if you can call it that was scrambled eggs on a bit of white toast … two lattes had also been ordered and a few minutes later, one mug arrived … oh, the other will be along shortly, we thought … then a gent walks up and says “um, excuse me mate, but that’s my mug!” We all have a bit of a giggle and he asks if he can have it – but of course! And no we haven’t touched it because we’re actually waiting for our two! Off the gent walks with his mug … When ours finally turns up (after a little gentle prompting from me) they were scalding hot (this barista/coffee snob had to endure the sound of the milk being ‘murdered’!!) and tasteless – we gave it our best shot but they really were undrinkable and left it! On our way back to the room, we met Steve and Cath headed in for breakfast: we warned them off the coffee! Bikes packed, we were soon on our way to Madura
Not long down the road though, we both decided we were over dressed with too many layers – the day was heating up very quickly, thanks to the gusty Northerly, and at the next available opportunity, we stopped at Mundrabilla to shed over jackets and a T-shirt layer
Madura to Cocklebiddy … Cath had said the coffee was good there … I’m sure it was, but unfortunately didn’t have time to search for “the spot” and on we pressed for Caiguna, just a short 66k hop down the road.
With the next leg to Balladonia being the longest straightest stretch of road in Australia of 146ks (gulp!), we stop for lunch (was that what it was!!) in Caiguna … oh yum, yet another egg and bacon sandwich, washed down with Red Bull! Bikes fueled and bodies somewhat, we’re off to face some weirdo accountant’s sick sense of humour! Who else but a bean counter would make such a long straight stretch of road!!
My backside is really starting to ache now … when does it ‘wear in’ like I’ve heard about??? ;-)
The Nullarbor landscape … ever changing, not all flat but undulating, and utterly and truly amaaaaaazing!!! For long stretches at a time, it’s the same, then in a blink of an eye it changes and you think “Shit! Did I miss something? When did that change!” because it’s gone from desolate nothing in part, to salt bush scrubby shrubs and stunted trees in the blink of an eye! And there were signs beside the road warning of unfenced roads, beware ‘roos, camels emu and stray cattle … saw none of those, too hot apparently, but felt extremely priviledged to briefly see in passing a magnificent Wedge Tailed Eagle on the side of the road, atop a relatively fresh road kill of wallaby – it was a HUGE bird! At some point further up the road (I forget where now), a trio of WT Eagles up high on the thermal currents.
Riding/driving the Nullarbor is plainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but from an aeroplane you don’t get to see WT Eagles or have the landscape of the Nulla so in your face! Loved it, and looking fwd to the return journey to get some more!
Fuel stop at Balladonia, and off again to Norseman – 192kms! Oh my aching seatbones!
In the last 50ks or so before Norseman, the vegetation suddenly changed again … scrubby stunted growth now ‘replaced’ by true bush, and some really really beautiful ‘red’ trunked gum trees … finally arriving in Norseman, early, we take a walk into main street in search of a well earned beer (momentarily accompanied by someone’s ‘stray’ German Sheperd – only a young dog, says Chris). Along the way, we come across one of those ‘red’ trees and take a closer look – trunk is perfectly smooth and exquisitely coloured!
A one-pub town, we don’t have much choice in venue. The beautiful Art Deco period “Norseman Motel” further down the street is open but unfortunately not serving beer – stunning AD ceilings, sweeping staircase, club lounges, classic AD light fittings (wish I’d taken some pics!!) it’s under new management and as yet no liquor license. But at least the Pub has a varied beer selection, unlike Eucla!! Emu Export for Chris, Becks for me … ahhhhhhhhhhhh, that’s much better!
Chris phones his brother … Mick is happy to know we’re doing Ok (particularly me) and making good progress, and that we should visit Walpoll when we get to Denmark … off the phone and Chris says, well I think Mick is jealous – you’ve got one up on him: he’s never crossed the Nulla on a motorbike! In fact, I reckon you’ve got more ‘balls’ than most men I know! … I chuckle, it’s a huge compliment from Chris!
Slightly staggering back to our overnight quarters after two beers that barely touched the sides, a noisy screeching in a tree got our attention – above our heads, a large superbly coloured parrot was literally doing his best impression of “shake a tail feather”! Gorgeous!
Dinner! LOL!! Barely are we seated in our chairs with menus in hand, a young voice comes from behind the bar 20 feet away “Are yous ready to order?” … oh dear! The wine list was sparse, and even though the reds were all crossed off as not in stock, there’s still two behind the bar – we pick a dubious Shiraz, but just a glass of … Rump steak for Chris, chicken stirfry for me – at least that was safe.
‘Ordering’ breakfast for tomorrow – no room service (as you’d get from any other Great Western Hotel) but instead you ‘order’ what you want and then wait for it to be put on a tray for you, to take back to the room yourself! Upside at least is, Chris had pre-paid the room prior to leaving Melbourne, so we can eat and buzz off when we feel like it tomorrow … hmmm, another long day in the saddle – best get some sleep!