Week three is done and dusted as Australians would say. I can only look back and think that the trip so far has been amazing. I’m not sure if I can fill in all the blanks on this last week but here goes.
Each day seems to start similarly, alarm set at 6:00 A.M. usually. We lay in bed for about 15 minutes, cell phones in action attempting to connect through varying levels of WIFI, G3 and G4 service areas. Sometimes no service at all. The areas we have covered ae some of the most remote in Australia. Mainly the service areas are there to support the main commerce supply line between east and west, The Great Eastern Highway. There is a significant number of caravans (trucks with camper trailers to those in the USA) traveling and exploring and camping out along the way of using the minimal hotel accommodations at the “Roadhouse” fuel stations. There is a major water pipeline that runs from Perth to about the middle of this area as there generally is no local water sources along the highway. The pipe diameter starts big and gradually gets smaller until there is no pipeline water, just trucked in water. Water is precious in these areas.
8/13, Saturday. Eucla to Nullabor Roadhouse, crossing into South Australia, 199 kilometers
Another of the “classic” Australian bike rides from the border of Western Australia to the Nullabor Roadhouse, midway across the Nullabor Plain. A big ride day of almost 200 kilometers. With a rest day under my belt and mental motivation to ride the full distance, I’ll never get this chance again, off we rode. The weather was better than most days, cool to start, overcast, misty at times, some tail winds to assist. Riding with Scotty, we talk some, on and off but mostly we zone out and just get on with riding. Hourly stops for nature breaks, food, and beverages and then back riding. I concentrate on hours that pass by during the early half of each ride and then as we break though the 100-kilometer mark, I start to think in terms of 30-kilometer sectors. Kilometers translate into miles and miles translate into past training rides and how long they lasted. Before long, the final 30 K, 20 K and 10 k pass by and we arrive at the renown Nullabor Roadhouse. Unpack, showers and relax and then off to the attached pub/café for hearty meals. All the food is trucked into these locations, so we need to be flexible in our dining requests.
8/14, Sunday. Nullabor Road House to Nundroo Road House, 145 kilometers
Not a classic ride, just getting across the most remote section, Nullabor Roadhouse to a smaller, less healthy Nundroo Roadhouse, 145 kilometers down the road. 200 kilometers plus 145 kilometers, with not much but these two roadhouses, you can imagine the remote nature, maybe. Without the actual experience, it is hard to imagine. The landscape changes in a subtle way, treeless, more bush, gradually more trees. Flat and straight and then into some rolling hills. The Nundroo lodging was a bit questionable, but the manager and Chris sorted it out, two rooms instead of one. Shower up and then into the café and hoping and getting a very nice feed as Chris would say.
8/15, Monday. Nundroo Road House to Ceduna, 153 kilometers
The motivator for today is we arrive in Ceduna for the start of some time off. We stayed in Ceduna when driving west and were hoping to stay in a nicer hotel, but it was all booked out so back to the original motor inn, ok but “cozy”. Another complication, we could only get a one-night stay and wanted two. Master planner, Chris, found an Airbnb about 40 k from Ceduna in an ocean front small town called Smokey Bay. Unfortunately, none of us seem to remember a lot about this ride. The scenery did start to change, more canola fields in sight. We had to stop at a quarantine station to declare if we were carrying fruit and vegetables. If you carry some, they need to be consumed or tossed before crossing a border area. We had ok winds behind us for the day until we started to sight Ceduna, which sits along the coast as a port, seafood, and tourist town. Head winds into the town, but only for about 3 k. Into the town center, a stop at the tourist agency for a look. Hey, the pizza place across the street is open, I’m hungry! Let’s go. An 18-inch pizza to share as an appetizer before dinner. Check in at the motor inn, usual unload, showers etc. 6:00 dinner time at the fancy hotel in town sharing a serving of oysters with Scotty and then I’m onto a huge bucket of mussels for dinner. Lights out for me by 9:00 or so.
8/16, Tuesday, the real day off, of sorts. Ceduna to Smokey Bay, 44 kilometers
Today is a total day off the bike but not really. Because the next lodging is east of Ceduna about 38 plus 5 kilometers, Scotty and I are on the bike for a very casual ride to Smokey Bay, resort town on the water. The plan is to ride slow, allow Chris to drive to the lodging and get on his bike to ride out to us so the three of us could ride into town together. All great plans, we met up with Chris about 3 kilometers from town center, oh well. Back into town so Scotty and I could do some sight-seeing and pictures while Chris went out to ride a bit more than 3 kilometers total. The Airbnb lodging was great, very comfy. We got there early enough to have a decent recovery day. Used the food we were carrying along to make a good pasta dinner for the night. Early to bed for me as tomorrow, back to serious riding.
8/17, Wednesday, Smokey Bay to Streaky Bay to Minnipa. 155 kilometers
This was a bit of a detour from the normal plan but worked out well. A few stops along the way for pictures close to another tourist town of Steaky Bay. I’m off and riding with a ton of energy, trying to challenge Scotty a bit. He loves the challenge to chase me down. Today he had to work harder than usual as I was feeling good. As happens, I paid for my earl efforts and lack of food along the route. About 50 k from Minnipa, the lights started to dim. I wanted to get to the main A1 Highway at Poochera before stopping for a refuel, maybe not a great choice but eventually worked out. I suffered and rode slow for 20 plus kilometers but after eating the last k’s into Minnipa turned out good. We found another Airbnb, the only one in this small town. The owner, Fiona, loved the idea of our ride and that we are supporting the Black Dog Institute, working to deal with mental health issues in Australia. She bought us extra food so we could have a great breakfast plus she alerted the local pub we were planning to stop for dinner and a beer. The locals at the pub we great, friendly, and fun. The chef did a great dinner for us, very generous and delicious. Back to the home for a good night’s sleep prepping for what looked like a challenging weather day on to Kimba. Our host even came by to get into the departure photos.
8/18, Minnipa to Kimba. Thursday. 142 kilometers, Half way across Australia
Kimba, another milestone, by todays end we will have ridden halfway across Australia. We are awoken at 6 to mostly clear skies, very cool temps, and some tail winds. We have been so lucky with the tail winds, thank you mother nature! The day wore on as they have been doing until about 80 k into the 160-k ride. Scotty and I watching the weather close in from the south and west. I hear Scotty say, “I feel some sprinkles” let’s add some layers. Well done, Scotty, before we get shoe covers and rain jackets on the rain is starting in earnest and then pelting down, oh yea, cold, hard rain but still good tail winds. The worst of the rain lasted for about 25 kilometers, then slowed but continued until we got to Kimba. We rode to the Big Galah bird statue and the big overhead sign saying halfway across Australia. Pictures were attempted unsuccessfully, and we were freezing so back down the road to another of our cozier motel rooms, barely enough space for 3 beds but the showers were hot and that was all I cared about. I could barely unzip my gear my hands were so cold. A few hours later, wet gear hanging everywhere in the room, we were off to the local pub, beers, and great food again.
8/19, Kimba to Port Augusta,Friday, 160 kilometers, where we get another day off.
Today was another of those deceptive ride days. To me, it felt like more downhill than uphill and even the uphill’s we did were not hard, 3 to 4% grades and then massive, long down hill sectors that added to overall great average ride speed, over 28 kph! Amazing to me in that before arriving I expected an average speed per day to be in the 18 to 22 kph range. Even on the worst of days we have done better than 23 kph. The day flew by, hourly stops fuel the beasts. As we get closer to Port Augusta, there are now banks of big bluffs in the distance, some mining hill areas as well. Time to make a slight direction change but still on A1 and once we make that turn, the traffic level increases 10-fold. We are no longer in the remote areas of Australia and won’t be again I suspect. We may be relegated to the rough break down lane from now on which is sad because the main highway is much smother and easier and faster to ride. A stop at the border of Port Augusta for pictures. Now, the challenge is to get through a busy town with road construction and arrive at our local hotel/resort stay for tonight, tomorrow and the next night. The weather treated us exceptionally well, warming nicely, sunny at times, our friends the tail winds and no rain. We found the lodging, nice place along the water. The normal end of day and off to another pub for food and beers, for me a huge meal. Back to home and we stayed up late doing IT related stuff now that we have WIFI again, not great WIFI but at least some.
8/20, Saturday, Port Augusta, rest day. I left the USA a month ago on July 20th.
8:00 alarm, unheard of. Easy morning and then off to Mama Lous for breaky. Interesting local café in an old railway station that looks like it still serves the pass throw rail commercial line as well as a tourist steam locomotive fun ride. Breakfast was exceptional and large, vegetarian big breakfast, no pork sausages! We stayed around long enough to watch the steam locomotive roll in, load passengers and then, steam whistle and all, head out. Back to our place, some shopping, bike maintenance, a bike ride for Chris and blog work. Snacks from the local “Woollies” (Woolworths full grocery). Hard to tell what tonight’s dinner plans will be, TBD. To bed early for tomorrows 6:00 A.M. alarm and a ride to Snowtown with the next day a ride into Adelaide for two days off.