Nullarbour Plain – Week 1
From Perth it was the Nullarbor Plain that got all the attention. They told us we were mad, that the heat in this instance of the year was a real deal, that there were tons of dangerous trucks and all kind of stories. Its infinite length, the lack of resources and the little car circulation. Oh, and many Japanese going solo at the same time … Of all the traced route, this was the only part people got stressed with. From hearing so much it generated a lot of expectation in the group. From the very beginning, we knew that in the second month of the project, we would come across an interesting challenge. Nullarbor means “no trees”. The service stations are about 200 km from each other. The total extension is close to 1200 km. This and that the temperatures would be around 35 degrees average, was almost all we knew. Some said that we would have the wind behind us, others in front and without knowing we kept on with our routine.
Nullarbor means “no trees”. The service stations are about 200 km from each other. The total extension is close to 1200 km.
In Esperance, we stayed three days. We had the intention of visiting its beautiful beaches but the weather was not favorable. The only afternoon when the sun came out we could enjoy two hours of its white sand. A black cloud anticipated our departure and back to the camp we finished organizing everything. There we stock up for almost 24 days. Three days before Norseman, that is to say, 200 km, we loaded ourselves to our maximum capacity. We re-organized all the panniers and distribute the weight. 50 cans of all kinds, 7 kilos of oats, 1/2 kilo of grated coconut, 8 kilos of nuts, 10 kilos of rice, 12 kilos of pasta, 8 liters of tomato sauce, 4 kilos of polenta, 4 kilos of cous -cous, 4 kilos of pressed cereals, peanut butter, honey and olive oil. With a maximum capacity of 70 liters of water, we put ourselves and the equipment to the test and with great patience we left.
The last town before entering the mythical route is called Norseman. There Theresa received us in her hotel and I will not tell much more since she deserves a whole paragraph. I will only anticipate that for our farewell dinner she cooked us pink salmon in papillote that I accompanied with mashed potatoes and broccoli.
We left around 9 am not before taking our classical group photo with the hotel staff. Saying goodbye and dividing the provisions took more time than expected. We had a champion’s breakfast, like every day. Oatmeal cooked with raisins and a grated coconut crust on top with some cinnamon and honey.
After a good rest, we smashed the first 80 km. To everyone’s surprise the landscape remained the same as the previous days. Accompanied by the sun during the whole day we arrived at 4 p.m. to the rest area. A table with two benches. Some bins and nothing else. A curious person approached willing to talk and invited us some very cold beers. Beautiful welcome. We dined rice with two cans of beans and as soon as we could, we went to sleep. I arrived exhausted. I had no strength and I think I got insulated. It was the fourth day that I carry with the trailer and Maxo accompanied me the last kilometers, lifting the mood. When I arrived, I armed the hammok and after two hours I could not lower the heart beats. With a stomachache I went to sleep hoping that tomorrow I would wake up better. 85 km were waiting for us.
Up at 5:30. Luxury breakfast and we disarm the camp. We don´t leave a trace where we camp. Although I was better in the morning, I felt a little weak and propose Maxo to carry the trailer. (Aleix carried it for a whole month and Dani pulls it since we left Perth.)
People always said it was flat. Evidently, they go by car and do not recognize what a hill is … The day did not give us a break. As soon as we went up a hill, before going down, another hill showed up. We finished the day with cycling over 87 km. Satisfied with the kilometer counter we had a kilo of pasta with tomato sauce. We should be a little more cautious with the speed when eating. The appetite is voracious and the pan empties in half the time that it is cooked. About eight we went to bed. A little bit of reading and to sleep.
Day 3 :
Routine is already deep into the group. The time to wake up is the one settled and the only change we´d made over the time was to disarm the camp once after having had breakfast. Cycling with a full stomach is not pleasant.
After 25 km we find the first roadhouse. (Gas stations that have accommodation and their prices can be a bit extravagant.)
This roadhouse was only 150 km far from Norseman and for a liter of water they charge $ 5. Dani tried a to haggle the prize through a solo talk with the boy at the counter but he showed zero empathy and we went back to the road without the desired water. In the supermarket a can of beans rounds a dollar and a half and in this place they dared to charge it to 9 ! … We ate some fruits (each one for 2 dollars) and with a bright blue sky we started to cycle again. 25 kilometers after, we found an abandoned house. It was located in the middle of nowhere. The only trees of the region were next to the house and we decided to stop and wait for the sun to go down a bit.
Nap in the shade
We lay on the ground and with some nuts, we distracted our appetite. At 15, still with the sun on top, we went back to the route. We were 27 km away from the goal when a car stopped. Aleix was behind me. Dani and Maxo were a little more motivated, ahead. A brunette girl that seemed 20 years old, more than happy, came out of her car. “Are you the Bikings? I’ve been following you since Perth!” We posed for the photo and she gave us each one a banana that was like Popeye´s spinach. We met in the mythical sign of the “90 mile straight”. We had entered the longest straight route in the country and I suppose it must also be the longest in the world … 146,6 km without any single curve! We took some photos there, obviously.
“We entered the longest straight route in the country and I suppose it must also be the longest in the world … 146,6 km without any single curve!.
We rode the last km. together. What happened next was incredible. I arrived with Maxo a few minutes later than the boys and stopped where a man was smoking a cigar. Stan, native of Scotland and saturation diver, invited us for some beers until they ran out. He gave us words of wisdom and encouragement and had dinner with us. Rice with beans of all colors and tomato sauce. Sleeping costs nothing more than lying down. The fatigue and being from up from 5 a.m. makes it easy and pleasant.
Day 4 :
We woke up a little bit later than normal because of the beers. We ate the oatmeal and Stan shared some dried figs that we still remember. Aleix had a flat tire and as soon as he fixed it and we were about to start cycling, it began to rain. A cyclone from the North was bringing rain to the driest part of the country. And plenty of it. We moved our camping to the only table that had a little roof. We mounted the tarp to protect ourselves from the rain and spent the day reading.
Expecting to find ourselves under 40 degrees every day we looked at each other’s faces with all the coat we had on and we laughed off the situation. It didn´t take long for it to vanish. In the afternoon we were all wet. Everything was wet. I went to a caravan in search of hot water with puppy dog eyes. The couple gave us also a fruit cake that we enjoyed very much. With the water I cooked a kilo of cous cous and in the afternoon something magical happened.
The rain had stopped and it was the first time in my life that I´ve seen something like that. A complete rainbow! The four of us standing side by side. Stunned. The sky was partly cloudy and the sunset was a gift. The range of colors returned us the smile. We went to bed with the fixed idea that the following day was going to be a beautiful day.
Day 5 :
With breakfast prepared from the night before, one starts well predisposed. Opening the tent and finding a massive fog was demotivating. Even so we disarmed the camp and decided to wait. We had the theory that as soon as the sun rised, the fog would dissipate.
It is a bit dangerous to ride like this because we lose visibility. Trucks and cars can`t be prudent.
We made the most of the morning and made a video of Guampas del Sur . Band we have with Maxo and have been playing for the past five years.
At 10 am we had already made all the necessary shots and we were super motivated. Packing things takes more time than expected. We were ready around 12 noon and before leaving with the stomach empty, we decided to eat some pasta with tuna and tomato sauce. We postpone the departure for 2:00 pm. The plans in this type of trip are extremely tied up to the circumstance so they tend to change a lot. We always discuss them together and we consider all possibilities.
We were putting on the sun cream, almost ready to leave, when a caravan stopped in front of us. I have never seen a similar one. A hotel on wheels. On the back, they had a closed trailer in which they had two Harley Davids. They gave us water and we faced the road again more than happy. We had made the most of the morning.
We cycled about 60 kilometers and stopped at a camping area. This one did not have any tables or anything. We ate rice with beet and peanuts while thinking ideas for the project. We love the movement. It makes us happy.
A couple of Germans appeared while we were having dinner. Being in the middle of nowhere, at first we became alert and as soon as we saw they were two young travelers, we relaxed. Before sleeping, we shared a few words with them.
Day 6 :
It was cloudy and as soon as we started packing, it began to rain again. This made everything go faster. We started cycling knowing that at 30 km there was a stop with a roof. We arrived at 10 am and luckily there were still two caravans parked there. We asked for water and the man took a 20-liter tank. He filled all our bottles. It turns out that he was traveling with his whole family. It is legal in Australia to do homeschooling. The children would travel around the country for a year, learning about it while on the road, national parks and meeting people from all the world. As soon as the last bottle was filled up, it began to pour. The only shelter was the rest area bathroom. The scene was funny. We didn´t know whether to laugh or cry. Being all day in such a small space is not pleasant. Even more, being wet and next to a hole full of shit.
Every now and then a car stopped to make use of it and we had to remove all our things from the bathroom. A couple who has been living for the last 11 years in their caravan gave us hot water. With it, I cooked a cous cous with some cans and we had lunch. Chatting about life we spent the whole afternoon.
The day turned exciting when a traveller stopped to throw the shit out of his caravan and gave us a beer for each one. We had a toast and with some cookies, also gifted, we started to laugh. Aleix went in search of hot water. He came back with a proposal that was a caress to the soul. The septuagenarian woman of one of the caravans parked in front of us, offered herself to cook dinner for us. At 1 8:30 as agreed, we presented ourselves at the door of the caravan. Shredded beef with boiled potatoes was waiting for us! With two bowls full of it, we sat next to the bathroom door under the roof and had dinner. I made some rice to make it bigger and satisfied, we went to sleep, with the illusion that the next day would be a beautiful one. The few 35 km cycled were somehow discouraging but the day has its surprises. Accepting that we are conditioned and enjoy the little things.
Day 7 :
Again, rain. The cyclone made us witness a very strange phenomenon. Three consecutive days in the driest area of the country. With the fixed idea of pedaling whatever the weather, we quickly dismantled everything. In the process, a couple that was leaving the camping stopped and offered us water. They were two cave divers. It was beautiful. They gave us kilos of fruit, nut muffins and some stories. It changed our mood completely.
We left super exited. We agreed to stop after 35km were we knew there was a rest area with a roof. It was the first time we cycled all together and at a very fast pace. Aleix was first and cheered us all up every thirty seconds. Like a coach, effusive and energetic, he shouted words of encouragement. With an average of 25 km per hour, the stop appeared fast. We enjoyed the apples and oranges like kids.
It’s hard to find them in this part of the country. The next gas station was about 40 km away. We arrived in Caiguna at around 15 in the afternoon.
We had finished the “90 Miles Straight”!
Dani, as a good leader, happy with the work of the team bought two showers. 20 minutes of hot water. We sat down to eat some bread slices with peanut butter. A thin layer of honey makes this meal a unique one. The texture and taste are addictive. The people in charge of the place were more than unfriendly. They asked us to leave, accusing us of harassing the few travelers that came into the road stop. We were a little bit angry with what had happened and tired after the 70 km. cycled, analyzed the situation. Upon a possible rain, we distance ourselves 300 meters from the place and camped in the bush. We set up the tents and tarp. As soon as we finished assembling the chairs, it started to rain. Under “the roof” and protected, we dined pasta with tomato sauce. One kilo to celebrate the day and without talking much about what happened in the afternoon so as to prevent getting into the bad vibes.
Writen by @francobicicleta